The Boxer (1)


I am just a poor boy
though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
for a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
All lies and jests,
still a man hears what he wants to hear
and disregards the rest

When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
in the company of strangers
in the quiet of the railway station
Running scared, laying low,
seeking out the poorer quarters
where the ragged people go
looking for the places only they would know


Asking only workman’s wages
I come looking for a job
but I get no offers,
just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there

Lie la lie …

Now the years are rolling by me
they are rockin’ evenly
I am older than I once was
and younger than I’ll be and that’s not unusual.
No it isn’t strange
after changes upon changes
we are more or less the same
after changes we are more or less the same

Lie la lie …

Then I’m laying out my winter clothes
and wishing I was gone
going home
where the New York City winters aren’t bleeding me,
leading me,
going home

In the clearing stands a boxer
and a fighter by his trade
and he carries the reminders
of every glove that laid him down
or cut him till he cried out
in his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
but the fighter still remains
still remains


“The Boxer” is a song by Simon & Garfunkel from their fifth studio album, “Bridge over Troubled Water” (1969). The song, written by Paul Simon, is folk rock ballad and takes the form of a first-person lament as the singer describes his struggles to overcome loneliness and poverty in New York City, and a third-person sketch of a boxer. who, despite losing the battle, will remain and never be defeated.
The chorus of the song is wordless, consisting of a series of “lie-la-lie“, originally intended only as a placeholder because Simon couldn’t find the right words. Later it became a crucial part of the song, like a lot of other placeholders that worked, such as Otis Redding’s whistling in “(Sitting On) The Dock Of The Bay“. The author stated that the essentially wordless chorus gave the song more of an international appeal, as it was universal.
It has sometimes been suggested that those words represent an attack on Bob Dylan, identified by his experience as an amateur boxer, and accused of lying about his musical intentions.
Simon revealed that he wrote this song during a time when he felt he was being unfairly criticized and had found inspiration in the Bible, which he would sometimes read in hotels. That’s where phrases such as “Workman’s wages” and “Seeking out the poorer quarters” came from. He stated: ”I think the song was about me”
Anyway the boxer is not just Paul; it is basically anyone or everyone. We all struggle to survive and are battle weary, and even though we may keep on, that doesn’t mean we are victorious.
The additional verse, not present in the “Bridge over Troubled Water” version, may confirm that the lyrics are largely autobiographical.

This verse was performed by Simon & Garfunkel on tour in November 1969 and sometimes by Simon in solo after the duo’s breakup
The song took over 100 hours to record, with parts of it done at Columbia Records studios and the chorus vocals recorded in a church: St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University in New York, chosen since it had a tiled dome that provided great acoustics.
This song was sung by Simon when Saturday Night Live comedy show came back for the first time after the September 11th attacks.
In 2016 at his concert in Berkeley, California, Paul Simon stopped singing partway through “The Boxer,” to announce Muhammad Ali’ s death

It is a metaphor about how life is a boxing match against not only the people who are fighting against us, but also ourselves
The narrator seems to wander through life searching for a purpose: he has tried his luck in NYC looking for a job but longs for home, comfort, and family.
However, he perseveres and, although he is knocked down, he goes on fighting for something.

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