on March 18, 2000
While it is certainly not their "greatest" album, this little gem remains my favorite Simon & Garfunkle album. It has a passionate innocence that belongs very much to its time period of the early 1960's.
Only four songs on it were written by Simon, a big difference from their later work where virtually everything was written by him.
Many of these songs paint wonderful word pictures:
"Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" is a very naive but beautiful plea for world peace. "Guns and swords and uniforms were scattered on the ground".
"Bleeker Street" is a wonderful bit of poetry about life in Greenwich Village. "The fog rolls in off the East River...I saw a shadow touch a shadow's hand on Bleeker Street..."
"Sparrow" is an allegory, almost a biblical parable, on Humanity's penchant for abandoning those in need. "Who will love a little sparrow?...'Not I', said the golden wheat, 'I would if I could, but I cannot, I know...'"
"Benedictus" is a Latin prayer...no word picture here, but I love Latin chant, and this is an interesting interpretation.
"The Sounds of Silence" is surely one of their greatest works and this is the original acoustic version. The best version I feel!
"Peggy-O" is an old, traditional folk song, known by a number of names. Joan Baez recorded it as "Fennario" and the Clancy Brothers released it as "The Maid of Fife". It is Irish in origin, but has been modified as it moved from country to country. All three versions I mentioned are somewhat different, but all are clearly the same basic song.
"The Sun Is Burning" is a powerful anti-war song, specifically on the threat of nuclear holocaust.
The album closes with the title track, a simple story of a man who committed a senseles crime and now must flee, leaving behind the girl he loves. "...I watch as her breasts gently rise, gently fall. For I know with the first light of dawn, I'll be leaving, and tonight will be all I have left to recall..."
I strongly recommend this album!
on August 17, 2002
First of all, I've got to get this off my shoulders: pay NO attention to the star rating. Looks like I can't get around it, but really, my star ratings don't mean much by themselves-it's all in the review here what I really think. OK, that being said, this album is a must for any Simon and Garfunkel fan. Their first album as S&G, it's unfortunate that this gem is, in my opinion, somewhat underexposed. It's an almost motley array of completely acoustic folk music, but there is enough really strong, beautiful material on here to hold it all together. Let's go over what's on here, shall we?
If you can manage to put all the existing circumstances out of your mind for a moment, "You Can Tell the World" S&G do a stirring, soulful rendition of this folksy, gospel-y, upbeat tune. Forget the overly harsh criticism you may have heard on this song-it's great music, pure and simple. "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" is a somewhat more benign rendition of an old 60s-classic. I got a kick out of the atypical instrumentals on this, but it's not really my favorite sounding song on this album. (Though they do a fine job with it.) "Bleeker Street" is, I believe, the most under-appreciated and wonderful song here. It's very "Paul Simon-ish"-you know immediately who wrote this powerful and understated song. It's just beautiful is all, the harmonies sounding especially great on this song. "Sparrow" is another similarly identifiable song, and I especially love the last verse. It's another powerful and wonderfully simple song by the time you get to the end. "Benedictus" is very well sung, though it perhaps feels somewhat out of place although the album is somewhat eclectic. Anyway, it's interesting to hear them doing this song, but not my personal favorite.
Then we come to "The Sound of Silence." The version on here is absolutely superb. Without the drums and electric guitar that were added into the more familiar version, it has a sound similar to "Bleeker Street" and "Sparrow." I'm thinking that I might prefer this version...Anyway, "He was my brother" is my other favorite song on here (along with "Bleeker Street"...and maybe some others; it changes every time I listen!). It's very folksy, but more up-tempo than some of the previous songs. Aside from the great sound of this song, the lyrics are very heartfelt and harshly moving. (I read that he probably wrote it for a friend who was killed working for civil rights...) The traditional "Peggy-o" is nice enough, but it feels like a somewhat unnecessary addition, a bit fluffy I suppose. "Go Tell It on the Mountain" is another gospel-y, upbeat song, sung soulfully. The lyrics of "The Sun Is Burning" are interesting to listen to, but the sound of the song is less captivating for me. Though it is in keeping with other songs on the album, the sound (until the ending) is very sweet and quiet. But then I suppose that plays up the irony of the song, and it is disturbingly effective at the end in talking about the horrors of warlike violence. "The Times They Are A-Changin'" is a great Dylan cover, with nice harmonies and a rigorous sound. Finally, "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M." is interesting but a bit too sweet sounding for me. I must say that I don't dislike it, I just don't listen to it much. (But look! A Paul Simon song that doesn't really rhyme!) On their next album, "The Sound of Silence," there's a more rock-like re-working of it. ("Somewhere They Can't Find Me")
Hey look I've written another long and overly detailed review! What a surprise! Anyway, this is a great album, particularly if you're already an S&G fan. It's the beginnings of all that Simon-and-Garfunkel-y-ness, it's interesting to hear where they're coming from after you hear their later albums. So forget the harsh criticism of this album as to simple or motley-it's not at all. This is an essential folk recording, various but somehow coherent, subtle but definitely not simplistic. Go back and give it a listen, there's some really really wonderful stuff on here.
on November 11, 2002
This collection of music is as good as any Simon & Garfunkel album out there (and perhaps better than most).
First of all everything is acoustic. No synthesizers, no electric guitars. There is no sound on this CD that isn't pure and natural. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel harmonize as well as anyone in the last 100 years of professional singing/songwriting.
Speaking of songwriting, the lyrics herein are permeated with smooth poetry and sometimes abstract symbolism which proves to be very puzzling. Even Art Garfunkel himself describes the song, "Bleecker Street" as "highly intellectual, the symbolism extremely challenging." And yet "Bleecker Street" is still one of the sweetest-sounding songs on here.
My personal favorite song on here is "You Can Tell the World". This is a lot more of a Gospel song. It talks about "My Lord" who "talked about the Children of Israel" and "talkin' about a man from Galilee". Near the end they sing, "Now the Jordan River is chilly and wide...I got a home on the other side." And each chorus ends with "He brought joy, joy, joy into my heart."
If your musical interests ever overlap Oldies, Folk, or Christian, then this is a wonderful CD to own and listen to to pieces.
on September 25, 2001
Wednesday Morning 3 A.M., Simon and Garfunkel's debut album, is a far cry from Bridge Over Troubled Water. It's a traditional folk album, entirely acoustic, consisting of traditional folk and gospel songs with a few Simon originals. It's very different from the more pop-oriented folk rock that would come later, but this is a very good debut. If you like folk music, and/or the beautiful harmonies and Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, you should like this album. But beware it's probably not as accessible as Bookends or Bridge Over Troubled Water.
on December 27, 1999
Just want to say that with the exception of Peter Paul & Mary's debut, no album better captures the idealism and passion of the Kennedy years. Also as PP&Ms debut serves as a model for all folk trios, this album in its purity is THE prime example for folk duos.* Finally, Bleeker Steet is a song of extraordinary beauty and subtlety and though we don't understand the lyrics to Benedictus- the music speaks for itself. The harmonies are as complex and as gorgeous as anything S&G would do later. I'm sure Simon would be embarrassed about much of this album now, but he shouldn't be. Its dated innocence is a big part of its timeless beauty. PS- Listen to this album's Sounds of Silence on one speaker at a time-one side is entirely Simon and the other Garfunkel---can't do that with the electric version on the 1965 album! *Everly Brothers are not being counted as folk, though they influenced S&G--and are a starting point as well.
on July 14, 2004
(Actually, 4.5 stars)
This is a really sweet acoustic folk album from a bygone era of idealism, folk-singing bards in Greenwich Village coffee shops, and sweeping social change. Even if only five songs on here are originals, it's still sweet soft music, the type you could lull a baby to sleep with. Two of the songs on here, "Sounds of Silence" and the title track, were later reworked for the SOS album; I don't really have a preference between the electric or acoustic version of "SOS," but I like "Wednesday Morning, 3 AM" over what later became "Somewhere They Can't Find Me." The genesis of that song is softer, gentler, and seems to emphasis how sad he is over having to leave his girlfriend, whereas "STCFM" focuses more on how he's committed a crime and has to escape before the police find him; there the part about having to leave the girlfriend seems more secondary and not as prominent.
My favourites on here are "Sparrow," the cover of the Dylan song "The Times They Are A-Changin,'" the gorgeous Latin Mass chant "Benedictus" (even if it is sung by two nice Jewish boys), the title track, "Bleecker Street," and "He Was My Brother." You just can't recapture this era in time, before folk music went electric and socially-conscious songs became largely a thing of the past.
We do not really think of Simon & Garfunkel as being a folk group, mainly because when "The Sounds of Silence" became a big hit and a signature song of the 1960s it had been electrified. But when you listen to their first album, "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.," it becomes clear from the opening track, "You Can Tell the World," that they were a folk duo. Of course there is the obligatory Dylan song, "The Times They Are-A Changin'," Sixties songs like "Last Night I had the Strangest Dream," and traditional songs like "Go Tell It On the Mountain" to add to the folk song bona fides of the album.
In retrospect what is interesting is Paul Simon's attempt to write folk songs, a category into which "The Sounds of Silence" does not fall. Of those original songs, "He Was My Brother" is the one most in keeping with the spirit of the Sixties, while "Bleecker Street" evinces the delicate music he could write. But Simon is still learning his craft, as evidenced by "Sparrow," which tends to be a bit pretentious. Then there is Simon & Garfunkle's rendition of the traditional song "Benedictus," which gets a bit electrified as well. There is a real sense that the duo are still learning their craft and just beginning to find the sound that would define them.
In addition to be digitally remastered, this version of "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. includes a trio of bonus tracks, which consist of bare boned demo version of Simon's "Bleecker Street" and alternate takes of his "He Was My Brother" and the cover of "The Sun is Burning." But even with those additions this remains an interesting but not great debut album by a duo that would continue to improve with each and every album they put out until they reached the pinnacle with "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and then called it quits when they were literally on top of the music world.
on December 3, 2013
I have enjoyed the music of Simon & Garfunkel for years, ever since my father once played The Boxer for me and challenged me to guess the title. Indeed, I Am A Rock has helped my angst since I was fourteen, but I could never have guessed how much I would come to love Simon and Garfunkel later. This summer a good friend and I were on a roadtrip, that's what a couple of 19 year-old-girls do with their time, right? While we were coming up the New Jersey Turnpike I was reminded of the song America, and the obsession began.
I had owned the "Best of Simon & Garfunkel" for quite a while before I bought "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M". It took a long time for the push to purchase their other albums, however. l came on Amazon with the intent to start at the beginning and work my way to the ever-popular "Bridge Over Troubled Water", and I am so glad that I did. I ordered "Wednesday Morning" in September. I waited three days for it, and it was the longest three days of my life. When it finally arrived, I ripped open the packaging, popped it into my CD player, and ascended into bliss.
"Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M." has a different sound than the other S & G records, since they stuck to a purely folk-sound, so I might not recommend it for the more casual S & G fan, but it is quite enjoyable all the same. It contains a few folk standards (including a joyous rendition of Go Tell It On The Mountain that l rather enjoy), a Bob Dylan cover, and some of Paul Simon's first songs. Yes, the original version of The Sound of Silence is here too. The best thing about the packaging are the candid album notes written by none other than Art Garfunkel himself.
Since I now own all of Simon & Garfunkel's studio albums, "Wednesday Morning" gets less play than the rest, but when I want to hear unadulterated youthful conviction this is the place to go. For anyone looking to start or complete their Simon & Garfunkel collection, I recommend "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M."
on December 29, 2003
This album often gets called good, just not as good as their later stuff. Well, that's mostly true. But, there are a few reasons here why this one is a favorite of mine. Firstly I got into it in my late teens, and therefore have an emotional connection, but also because of the songs of course. The only real hit here is "The Sound Of Silence", and while that's excellent, my two favorites are "Bleeker Street" and "Sparrow". There's just something about those two tracks, and really the whole first side that's amazing. Maybe because they're so simple, I really feel like I'm being read a story, but to music. Anyway, all three of those songs are thankfully on "The Essential Simon And Garfunkel", which is probably best for casual fans. However, all of "Wednesday Morning 3AM" still sounds good 40 years later, especially on vinyl.
. . .Simon and Garfunkel would become, to my mind, it still gets 4 stars because of the promise it showed -- promise which did come to fulfillment.
Unlike later albums, on Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., Simon and Garfunkel covered quite a few songs written by other artists, including such stock folk favorites as "You Can Tell the World" (aka "Yes, He Did") and a rather good version of Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changing".
However, Simon's music writing talent showed definite promise in the haunting "Bleeker Street" and showed profound musical genius in the all-acoustic version of "The Sounds of Silence". Credit must also be given for the touchingly beautiful "Benedictus" taken from the Latin Mass.
This is still one of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel albums.