Simon & Garfunkel’s great trick was to blur the boundaries between contemporary songwriting and traditional music. They made pop hits out of songs that had been in the culture for hundreds of years. They also wrote original songs that sounded like they’d been lifted straight from a psalm. This one I’ve always thought was an arrangement of something from a literary archive, or the Bible, or some other repository of ancient words. But apparently Paul Simon wrote it himself. Of course, Simon was not always above taking credit for things that already had an author, so you never know where a studious young poet such as himself may have found an inspiring parable about a hungry little bird.

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