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Reconsidering Cecilia

The Simon and Garfunkel hit, Cecilia, came on the radio as I was running errands. I hummed along, though I’ve never really liked the song all that much. All the begging in the lyrics bugs me.

English: Singer-Songwriter duo Simon & Garfunk...

And/or  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The boys sang their way through the first verse. Then they went into the second verse because that is the proper order of things. As The Ramones sang in Judy Is A Punk, “second verse, same as the first”. More begging. It made me sad to think about their lost dignity. I was about to turn the radio off before they further humiliated themselves, but they were too fast for me.

Making love in the afternoon with Cecilia
Up in my bedroom (making love)
I got up to wash my face
When I come back to bed
Someone’s taken my place

“Well, that’s both revealing and embarrassing for all concerned,” I said to myself. It doesn’t reflect well upon Cecilia, Simon and/or Garfunkel.

In Re Cecilia

This verse looks bad for this young woman. It is her prerogative to date anyone she likes, even folk duos. “Dating” someone, in the home of an earlier “date” is bad form. Doing so in the bedroom of the prior date as they wash up is especially bad.

It is significant that this place taking man has arrived and gotten in bed with Cecilia in the time it takes to wash a face. It is left up to us to decide if Cecilia had prearranged this second rendezvous before arriving at the Simon-Garfunkel residence or she called him as soon as the face washing commenced.

Given that Simon and Garfunkel recorded this song  before  the mobile phone era, I think she arranged this in advance. This second man would have had to be standing by, awaiting some sort of signal. I’m no Cecilia, but if I were her adviser I would recommend some sort of light signal similar to the “one if by land, two if by sea” system made famous by Paul Revere.

In Re Simon And/Or Garfunkel

National Children's Home - Annual Face Wash

Do it yourself, or get someone to help, but do it before the date. (Photo credit: theirhistory)

The likelihood that Cecilia prearranged the second get-together to occur on the heels of the first does not make Simon and/or Garfunkel look like much of a catch. Her expectations of either or both of them were so low that she planned for dissatisfaction. When her prediction came true, she activated a back up plan.

Having completed the act to his/their own (but not Cecilia’s) satisfaction, our singer(s) then got out of bed to do some face washing. I can produce witnesses who can attest that I do not know what women want. But I can say with confidence that women prefer a man who washes before a date. Doing so during or after the date is ineffective and may send an unintentionally insulting message.

It would be easy to judge Cecilia as a woman of questionable character based on what we’re told in verse three. I contend that this does her a disservice. A closer look casts Simon and/or Garfunkel as obsessive-compulsive face washers who aren’t so good with women.

Nobody in this farce is worthy of a visit home to meet the parents. And then it gets worse.

Verses Four And Five

Verse four, which follows the scandalous verse three, has our duo begging Cecilia again.

But then along comes verse five’s jubilation over Cecila’s return. “She loves me again.” Sad, sad, sad. The word “again” implies she loved him/them the first time, but I see nothing that supports that idea.

Now that I’ve thought this through, I’m not going to listen to the song, Cecilia, anymore. I urge you to do the same. These two (or three) need a fresh start away from each other. They’re not going to get that start with us listening to them go on about their problems all the time.

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33 Comments on “Reconsidering Cecilia”

  1. Laura says:

    How long did it take him to wash his face, though? I agree that if it was just a few minutes, then Cecilia was clearly in the wrong, but what if he was gone for a year? Maybe she thought he’d used the face-washing story as a pretext for leaving her.

    • omawarisan says:

      That is a problem I have with the song. It seems slanted against her Face washing? There’s something happening here. I think there is some information left out that exonerates Cecilia.

  2. For the record, we should also consider the historical context of the song. It was an era of free love and dirty hippies. Is there a chance that the very act of washing had actually turned Cecilia off? I accept that Simon and Garfunkel didn’t really come across as dirty, like Grace Slick or the members of Canned Heat, but it’s still a possibility.

  3. lbwoodgate says:

    “Now that I’ve thought this through, I’m not going to listen to the song, Cecilia, anymore. I urge you to do the same.”,/i>

    Sorry. It’s the rhythm and melody that keeps me coming back. Just make your own words up to conceal the metaphor of the words.

    • omawarisan says:

      Ok, but I can’t be responsible for any lovers triangle, or quadrangle as the case may be, tragedies that result between these people if you insist on listening.

  4. Wendy says:

    Just to clarify, we should listen to the sound of silence instead of Cecelia?

  5. Face washing was a euphemism. For song writing. She probably got sick of them getting up and writing a song instead of cuddling. Can you blame her? My only question is why she took them back.

    I have loved this song for 25 years. I think it’s all the clapping. Which may or may not be have been symbolic of something else back then.

  6. As one (or many more than one) would expect, you have provided yet another insightful and unique analysis.

    This begs (but in much less desperate a manner) the question: what was actually going on with me and Julio down in the schoolyard?

  7. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Dear Oma. Apparently, you didn’t partake in the free love movement. The era of free love included “group love.” Cecilia wasn’t sharing a bed with just one fellow. There was another fellow lying on the other side of that slut. He simply switched places when that idiot went to wash his face (a euphemism for smoking dope). It happens to me here all the time. I get up to go to the bathroom and my Stella (my Boston Terrier) takes the warm spot I left behind. Yeah. Just like that. Not.

    • omawarisan says:

      I don’t get to say this nearly as often as I’d like anymore – I was too young to have participated.

      Sometimes I listen to Papa Dukie And The Mud People by the Subdudes. That’s as close to a hippie experience as I get. That and The Last Waltz and the Woodstock soundtrack.

      • Snoring Dog Studio says:

        I forgot to mention how much I loathed that tune Cecilia. I’m not of that era, either, actually. And even if I had been, I’m far too uptight to haven taken part in all that stuff.

  8. Debbie says:

    You’ve raised a whole bunch of questions that make me feel inept at answering. I always just took the guys at face value — Cecilia was a “woman of questionable morals.” Plain and simple. Drug euphemisms? Symbolism? Eek, I wonder if these young guys really meant to convey anything other than what the words say??

  9. I see this as a fore shadowing of small town America, and the way their economies are bought and sold, for greed. Either that or maybe, just maybe the boys were finding out free love isn’t.
    Great post Oma!

  10. dufmanno says:

    Just for the record- I don’t think Garfunkel participated in this sordid den of partner swapping madness.

  11. audreyhipbone says:

    It may just be that Simon made the lyrics up as he went along, leaving Garfunkle to overdub and thing “what’s this shit I am singing” all to himself.

  12. Maybe this is all a reverse psychology to get Cecilia to break up with him. He’s too afraid to break up with Cecilia himself.


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