This was, for me, a revelatory song. In 1968, I owned a total of three albums – the US version of A Hard Day’s Night with all the stupid orchestral pieces, the first Monkees album, and the second Monkees album, all Christmas presents from 1964, 1966 and 1967 respectively. (Why no album in 1965? No idea.) And my parents weren’t much better – a few Clancy Brothers albums, a collection of Scottish anti-Polaris protest songs, and a record of sound effects from the USS Enterprise, for some goddamn reason. (Sample track listing: “Raising Anchor.” “Charging the Steam Cataputs.” “Retracting the Arresting Gear.”) The radio was usually on an easy-listening station, and I thought the ’60s didn’t get any more exciting than Judy Collins or Pet Clark.
But then my dad went out and bought Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel because he and Mom saw “The Graduate” and liked the music. “Mrs. Robinson” was light enough that we heard it on our habitual radio station, but the rest of the album, for a weird little 12-year-old like me, was like nothing I had heard before.
There was “Save the Life of My Child,” with its Jesus ending, and the voices of the old people, and “Punky’s Dilemma,” with the incomprehensible image of “Wish I was a Kellogg’s corn flake/Floating in my bowl taking movies/. . . talking to a raisin who occasionally plays LA/casually glancing at his toupee.”
But “Fakin’ It,” the first song on the second side, was deep deep deep. I listened to it over and over, picking up the needle and dropping on the edge as I tried to sort out the tune, the instruments, the time signature, and what the hell it all meant. There seemed to be so much going on. And it was a song that never appeared on the charts or the radio, so it felt like it was my private song. And I became, until I started college and discovered Dylan, a huge S&G fan. I know all their albums – and the older I get, the more whiny and adolescent they seem. But “Fakin’ It” still shines like a beacon for me. It’s the song that revealed to me that there was more going on, Horatio, than was dreamt of in your top-40 lists.
(And yes, you can probably blame shit like “Fakin’ It” for making me an English major, doomed for eternity to make stupid Shakespeare references like that. When I’m not doing Simpsons quotes.)