CENTRAL THOUGHTS: The Wisdom Of ‘The Boxer’

“Still, a man hears what he wants to hear/And disregards the rest”“The Boxer,” Simon & Garfunkel, from “Bridge over Troubled Water,” Columbia Records, 1969.

“After changes upon changes/We are more or less the same/After changes we are more or less the same” — The “missing verse” from “The Boxer,” Simon & Garfunkel. (Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel have sung the verse at rare public performances, including the famous reunion concert in New York’s Central Park in 1981. The duo had broken up in 1970. The version of “The Boxer” on the “Bridge over Troubled Water” album did not include the verse.)

Simon & Garfunkel sang "The Boxer" and included the famous "missing verse" at a Central Park concert in 1981 attended by 500,000 people.

Simon & Garfunkel sang “The Boxer” and included the famous “missing verse” at a Central Park concert in 1981 attended by 500,000 people. From YouTube.

EDITOR’S NOTE: AdSurfDaily, Zeek Rewards and TelexFree were investment-fraud schemes that led to staggering losses. People heard what they wanted to hear — and disregarded the rest. At the same time, the “programs” were cosmetically tweaked versions of one another, demonstrating for the ages that changes can occur but something can remain more or less the same.

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Sept. 19, 1981: In what perhaps was the shortest speech of his political career, then-New York City Mayor Ed Koch descended the four steps leading to the main stage set up in Central Park. The mayor, hearing boos after earlier suggesting the city no longer could afford such a high-maintenance gathering place, spoke exactly six words to an estimated 500,000 people.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he intoned, “Simon and Garfunkel.”

Though some accounts of the event put an exclamation mark after Koch’s “Simon and Garfunkel” phrase, the mayor seems not to have inflected one. But if a verbal misdemeanor occurred that day, Hizzoner recovered quickly. A former infantryman, Koch made a semicrisp quarter-turn, focusing 1 million eyes on the stage door through which the city’s greatest divided treasure would appear and re-fuse into a single gem again after 11 years as solo diamonds.

A tremendous roar went up. Art Garfunkel, the personification of “talent on loan from God” long before Rush Limbaugh popularized the phrase, was first to come into view. The incomparable Paul Simon was behind him, carrying a guitar.

“The Boxer” — with its famous “missing verse” — was the 17th song of the concert, according to the set list. The work often is described as a lament that includes the famous refrain “lie-la-lie.” People being people, it naturally triggered conspiracy theories about precisely who might be lying. Bob Dylan perhaps? The last thing some folks wanted to believe, apparently, was that “lie-la-lie” was simply a catchy, harmonic bridge to other verses.

What cannot be doubted is the wisdom of the song (highlighted above). A man does hear what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. And even after changes upon changes we are more or less the same.

See “The Concert in Central Park” Wikipedia entry.

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3 Responses to “CENTRAL THOUGHTS: The Wisdom Of ‘The Boxer’”

  1. Hey Patrick,

    A great metaphor, and great memories of music from my first year of high school. It was just the other day, that I was listening to “Old Friends” from this wonderful duo. Wish they’d stayed together, they were better together.

    Thanks for the memories.

  2. John: Thanks for the memories.

    You’re welcome, John. Glad you enjoyed the stroll down Memory Lane.


  3. I’m still upset the German blu ray version of The Graduate has HD 5.1 audio IN GERMAN but only 2.0 English audio …. AND …. the American MGM version has a very good HD 5.1 but the video quality is inferior.

    So you have to watch MGM sucky picture quality to enjoy the best audio but to see the best PQ you have to listen to reduced audio on the German version.