Song Lyric Sunday – I Am A Rock

This week I found myself torn with regard to song choice. The prompts for Song Lyric Sunday are Atoll, Island, Key, Lagoon, Peninsula, Reef and Tropical, suggested by Kristian, from Tales From The Mind of Kristian. As Paul Simon is one of my favorite artists I wanted to feature ‘I Am A Rock’. The lyrics to me are pure poetry. At the same time I like the upbeat Sammy Hagar song, ‘All We Need Is An Island’, so I decided to go with both. I hope you enjoy them.

The Song

Simon was going solo at this time because the Simon & Garfunkel 1964 debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. had stiffed, and the duo split up. Late in 1965, the producer Tom Wilson overdubbed and remixed a track from that album, “The Sound Of Silence,” and it became a huge hit. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were summoned back to the studio, where they recorded the singles “I Am A Rock” and “Homeward Bound,” which were included on their Sound of Silence album. These songs were recorded with producer Bob Johnston at one of the Columbia Records studios in New York City, and now released with a more contemporary sound, “I Am A Rock” became a hit for the duo.
In the UK, this was released three times in a one year span: first as the original Paul Simon single in 1965, then in the summer of 1966 it was released as an EP and again as a single. The song was very popular there in 1966, but the chart position suffered because the sales of the single were diluted by multiple releases.
The guitarist on the Simon & Garfunkel hit version of this song was Ralph Casale, who was a top session player in the ’60s. He remembers organist Al Kooper and drummer Bobby Gregg – both associated with Bob Dylan – also performing on the song. Describing the sessions, Ralph told us: “The band was booked from 7:00 p.m. into the wee hours of the morning. I was given a lead sheet for ‘I Am A Rock’ with just chords and asked to play the electric twelve string guitar. The producer wanted a sound similar to the Byrds. It was important that session players became familiar with the current hits because many times producers describe the style they want by referring to well known groups. Paul Simon sang the figure he wanted me to play between verses and asked me to play it in thirds. The rest was left to me. ‘Homeward Bound’ was on that same date.”

The Lyrics

A winter's day, in a deep and dark December
I am alone
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow
I am a rock, I am an island

I've built walls
A fortress deep and mighty 
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
Friendship causes pain
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain
I am a rock, I am an island

Don't talk of love
But I've heard the words before
It's sleeping in my memory
I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried

I am a rock, I am an island
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me

I am a rock, I am an island
And a rock feels no pain 
And an island never cries

Writer:  Paul Simon

The Song

There was a suggestion that 65-year-old Hagar record this song with 23-year-old country-pop superstar Taylor Swift, but he was concerned about the age difference. Instead he laid it down it with Heart’s Nancy Wilson. “She did the best duet on the record,” Hagar told Jam! Music of Wilson. “She brought more to that song than everyone else did โ€ฆ It’s beautiful. She took my idea and just made it from a girl’s perspective. I wanted to do it with someone real young and hip and popular and my manager and everyone around me was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah! Let’s get Taylor Swift! Yeah, her guitar player is a big Sammy fan! All he does is play your music on the bus.’ And then I thought, ‘Well, gee, what if someone wants us to do a video, then people are going to be going, ‘Is that her grandpa?’ I’m okay with being a grandpa but not Taylor Swift’s grandpa.”
Hagar also considered recording this with the lead singer of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. “I met Grace Potter, and I wanted to do a duet with her,” he told Rolling Stone, “but I didn’t have the song. I thought ‘All We Need Is an Island,’ but I ended up doing that with Nancy [Wilson], and Nancy killed it.”

The Lyrics

Well, all we need is an island
Big ol' sandy beach
Palm tree for some shade
Sweet sugar cane

All we need is an island (all we need is an island)
A hammock that swings
A tall cool one, a whole lotta sun
A belly full of rum

All we need is an island
Ooh, all we need is an island
All we need is an island

Get the cold ass winter gone
So cold and so long
Feel it in my bones
All we need is an island (all we need is an island)

A little time alone
A feeling in me, you and me
A little ecstasy
All we need is an island

Ooh, all we need is an island
(All we need is an island)
All we need is an island

Sea, sun, salt and sex
A line and a pole
Put a pig in a hole
All we need is an island

Work, work, work away
Honey, take me to this paradise
With a miracle kiss
All we need is an island

Ooh, all we need is an island
(All we need is an island)
All we need is an island

(All we need is an island)
Ooh, all we need is an island
(All we need is an island)
All we need is an island

Writer: Sammy Hagar

  19 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – I Am A Rock

  1. October 25, 2021 at 3:57 am

    great song choices this week, Christine! <3

    • Christine Bolton
      October 26, 2021 at 12:19 am

      Thanks Carol anne. Iโ€™m happy you liked them โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿ’•

  2. October 25, 2021 at 12:49 am

    Of course I think you made an excellent choice with โ€œI Am a Rock,โ€ especially since I chose the same song. I hadnโ€™t heard the other song before โ€” either version.

    • Christine Bolton
      October 26, 2021 at 12:20 am

      Thank you. Our choice was one of the iconic songs of the 60s. โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘

  3. October 24, 2021 at 6:20 pm

    Love S & G, and that Hagar is new to me. I like it. It has a John Mellencamp vibe.๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿผ

    • Christine Bolton
      October 26, 2021 at 12:21 am

      Thank you! Yes that song was pretty mellow โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿ’•

  4. October 24, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    What a twofer! Awesome. Nice to see a softer side of Sammy. Glad he went with Nancy Wilson too. She has a goddess of a voice.

    • Christine Bolton
      October 24, 2021 at 3:30 pm

      Yes totally agree with you regarding Sammy Hagar. I thought it was a nice one โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿ’•

  5. October 24, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    Christine I love both both of these great tunes. Great post so much interesting information. ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ

    • Christine Bolton
      October 24, 2021 at 3:15 pm

      Thanks Willow. Iโ€™m so happy you liked it โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿ’•

      • October 24, 2021 at 3:40 pm

        I really did ๐Ÿ˜‚

  6. October 24, 2021 at 11:54 am

    Super choices! ‘I Am a Rock’ of course is wonderful, and though I’d never heard ‘All We Need Is An Island”, I thought it was such a beautiful song. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Christine Bolton
      October 24, 2021 at 3:14 pm

      Thanks Barbara. The Sammy Hagar one was new for me too but I really liked it too โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿ’•

  7. October 24, 2021 at 9:52 am

    I love the Simon & Garfunkel song, but this is the first time that I listened to the Sammy Hagar tune Christine. I loved the Mickey Heart connection.

    • Christine Bolton
      October 24, 2021 at 3:17 pm

      Thanks so much Jim. I always enjoy collaborations in music โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿ’•

    • Christine Bolton
      October 24, 2021 at 3:31 pm

      Yes Mickey Heart and Nancy Wilson from Heart! ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. October 24, 2021 at 12:49 am

    I love โ€œI am a Rockโ€. Great lead song today. The second one is new to me. I really enjoyed it. Thanks for featuring them today.

    • Christine Bolton
      October 24, 2021 at 8:03 am

      Thanks Maggie. Happy you liked both โ˜บ๏ธ Have a great Sunday!

      • October 24, 2021 at 8:53 am

        Thanks. I wish the same for you.

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