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Kathy’s Song ~ Simon & Garfunkel

THE “KATHY” SERIES

up-simon_and_garfunkleSMThe duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are American popular musicians known collectively as Simon & Garfunkel. They met in elementary school in 1953, when they both appeared in the school play Alice in Wonderland (Simon as the White Rabbit, Garfunkel as the Cheshire Cat). They formed the group Tom and Jerry in 1957, and had their first taste of success with the minor hit “Hey Schoolgirl”. As Simon and Garfunkel, the duo rose to fame in 1965 backed by the hit single “The Sounds of Silence”. Their music was featured on the landmark film The Graduate, propelling them further into the public consciousness. They are well known for their close harmonies and sometimes unstable relationship. Their last album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, was marked with several delays caused by artistic disagreements.

Kathy’s Song

Kathleen Mary “Kathy” Chitty worked part-time selling tickets at the Railway Inn Folk Club in Brentwood, Essex, UK in 1964. She became the girlfriend and muse of Paul Simon when he lived in England in 1964 and 1965. She is referred to directly or indirectly in at least three of his songs.

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. was recorded in early 1964 and included the original acoustic version of The Sound of Silence. After the recording, Simon moved to England without Garfunkel. At this time folk music was becoming popular in England and Simon started working around the English folk clubs and coffee houses.

He met Kathy Chitty on 12th April 1964 at the very first English folk club he played at, the Railway Inn Folk Club in Brentwood, Essex. She was 17, he was 22 and they fell in love. Later that year they visited the US together, touring around mainly by bus. Kathy returned to England on her own with Simon returning to her some weeks later. When he was back in London he recorded the album The Paul Simon Songbook that included Kathy’s Song, and had a photo of Simon and Kathy on the cover. Also included in the album was another version of The Sound of Silence.

Although Wednesday Morning 3 A.M. was initially a flop, the version of The Sound of Silence on that album began to receive limited airplay, so the producer, Tom Wilson, without consulting Simon or Garfunkel, overdubbed the recording with electric guitar and base, and drums. This new version entered the US charts in September 1965. By the end of 1965 and for the first few weeks of 1966 it was at No. 1 in the US pop charts.

In September 1965, when Simon learned of the growing success of The Sound of Silence he felt the need to immediately return to the US to continue his career. Kathy was quite shy and wanted no part of the success and fame that awaited Simon. They split up.

References to Kathy in Paul Simon’s Songs

During the separation after Kathy returned home from the American trip, Paul Simon wrote America, clearly a love song to Kathy, that lays bare the extent to which he was missing her:

“Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping
“I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why”

During their separation he also wrote “Kathy’s Song”:

I gaze beyond the rain-drenched streets
To England where my heart lies.
My mind’s distracted and diffused
My thoughts are many miles away
They lie with you when you’re asleep
And kiss you when you start your day.

Simon wrote Homeward Bound  at the  Ditton Railway Station, one of two stations located in the town of Widnes Ditton in Cheshire, England on Hale Road on the border between Ditton and Halebank. The station, on the London-Liverpool line, was closed to passengers on 27 May 1994. Now only the Widnes Railway Station remains. It is also widely interpreted that this song is also about Kathy:

I wish I was homeward bound
Home, where my thoughts escaping
Home, where my music’s playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.

After Paul Simon returned to America in 1965 they were not in contact for over 20 years. In 1986, during his success with Graceland he received a letter from her. In 1991, while on tour in the UK, Kathy and her family attended Simon´s show in Sheffield. In July 2004 Simon confirmed her attendance at the Old Friends Reunion Tour stop in Hyde Park.

Kathy is a very private person, all attempts by the press to cajole information or her whereabouts out of Simon have failed. As far as anybody knows, she is now a grandmother with three grown-up children and living in the Welsh mountains (where she has lived most of her life) working part-time at a technical college. Widnes station has a plaque commemorating the history of Homeward Bound. When this went missing a few years ago, Kathy was invited to unveil the replacement but she declined.

Kathy’s Song – Simon

I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm continuing
Tapping on my roof and walls.

And from the shelter of my mind
Through the window of my eyes
I gaze beyond the rain-drenched streets
To England where my heart lies.

My mind’s distracted and diffused
My thoughts are many miles away
They lie with you when you’re asleep
And kiss you when you start your day.

And a song I was writing is left undone
I don’t know why I spend my time
Writing songs I can’t believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme.

And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you.

And as I watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There before for the grace of you go I.

 

  • Audio from the 1966 album, Sounds of Silence:

sounds-of-silence

Play Kathy's Song - by Simon &