"The Only Living Boy In New York" as written by and Paul Simon....
Tom, get your plane right on time
I know your part'll go fine
Fly down to Mexico
Do-n-do-d-do-n-do and here I am,
The only living boy in New York

I get the news I need on the weather report
I can gather all the news I need on the weather report
Hey, I've got nothing to do today but smile
Do-n-doh-d-doh-n-doh and here I am
The only living boy in New York

Half of the time we're gone
But we don't know where,
And we don't know where

Half of the time we're gone
But we don't know where,
And we don't know where

Tom, get your plane right on time
I know you've been eager to fly now
Hey let your honesty shine, shine, shine now
Do-n-do-d-do-n-do
Like it shines on me
The only living boy in New York,
The only living boy in New York


Lyrics submitted by kevin

"Only Living Boy in New York" as written by Paul Simon

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Only Living Boy In New York song meanings
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  • +9
    General CommentFrom SongFacts: Paul Simon wrote this song about his partner Art Garfunkel going to Mexico to act in a movie called Catch-22. Art was missing a lot of recording dates while trying to kick off his acting career, and Paul was hinting at a breakup.

    The duo did indeed split up after the album was released. Regarding the lyrcis, "Tom get your plane right on time. I know that your eager to fly now," before the Folk duo became famous, they were known as Tom and Jerry. Tom was Art's stage name, so this line symbolizes their increasing need for musical and personal freedom.

    In a 1990 interview with SongTalk magazine, Simon said: "I liked the 'aaahhhs,' the voices singing 'aaah.' That was the best I think that we ever did it. It was quite a lot of voices we put on, maybe twelve or fifteen voices. We sang it in the echo-chamber." Simon & Garfunkel split up after this album was released. Paul recorded as a solo artist, and Art pursued an acting career.

    This was used in the 2004 movie Garden State. Zach Braff, who wrote and directed the movie, thought the song worked perfectly to convey the loneliness of a character. Simon & Garfunkel rarely license the song, but they let Braff use it for a greatly reduced fee after seeing the scene. (thanks, Denise - Santa Clarita, CA). The session musician Joe Osborn played an 8-string bass on this track, which the album's producer Roy Halee said was the featured musical element of the song. Years later, when Osborn tried to relearn his part to demonstrate it, he realized it was very difficult to reproduce live, as Halee spliced together various takes for the recording.
    JrSampleson February 28, 2013   Link
  • +5
    General CommentWhen i got the garden state soundtrack i must admit i skipped this song and never played it. I was retarded. I then saw the movie and saw how it fitted in with the movie and the scene i just fell in love with...and i was wondering what the song was during the scene. Then it went "the only living boy in new york.." and i could of just died. THIS IS WHAT I HAD BEEN MISSING OUT ON?! Gorgeous song. I listen to it before i have to go to school. It calms me down and i don't even have to worry about what is going to happen today or any day ahead of when this song finishes. THIS is why i love music.
    beulahon June 08, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General Comment"half of the time we're gone but we don't know where / and we don't know here"

    this song does it for me -- everywhere. driving through the rain, baking out in the sun, sitting inside staring at my wall, snuggling close to anyone...it always fits and it always feels right. half of the time i wonder if i'm the only one in the world left with any kind of soul.
    catherinekson January 04, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General Commentthis song, to me, is about that feeling when you're alone in the world and you wonder if there will ever be anyone who understands you. someone to mirror your heart. someone to love. i don't know what every line means, but i sure know that feeling.
    steveo3387on March 25, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General Commentthe background vocals of the aaaaaaaAAAaaaaaAAAaaaahere I am parts are amazing.
    Kaguthon January 06, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General Commentgoing along with what everyone else said about him writing this song for Art being away...the line: "I can gather all the news I need on the weather report" is funny to me b/c when i look at the weather, i always look at all the cities where i know people and see how the weather is there. it's kind of peaceful to me, like you know how they're doing almost.
    fallonmarie813on January 06, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI feel that "iamtehmadhat" interpretation covers pretty much everything. However, I think that "Half of the time..." refers to touring, refers to being on the road. Another day, another city. Performers often lose track of where they are.

    The line could also refer to their drug use, I suppose, but considering the song is about remaining in New York--and being content about that--I think "Half of the time..." refers to touring. (Could also refer to dissociating from the Here and Now, I don't know.)

    I think Paul, in this song, is content to remain in New York. There's a wistful quality to this song, but I don't think it's "sad." I don't think one would use "Doit 'n de doit..." in a sad song.

    After touring, and writing, and recording, with Art gone, he's "...got nothing to do today but smile." (Not that Paul wouldn't still write during this time alone, but you get my point.) And yes, Paul could also be smiling at memories he's shared with Art, etc., but mostly I think he's just perfectly content to be "in the moment"; to have a break, in New York, a city he loves.

    He's grateful.

    And I don't mean to intimate that Art was a burden for Paul. But I think Paul is expressing how he's at peace with the state of things between them. And if that also refers to the impending breakup, then so be it. "I know you've been eager to fly now..." surely has a double meaning.

    "...let your honesty shine" probably has a double meaning; partly referring to Art bringing honesty to his acting role in Catch-22, and partly referring to their honesty with each other about their desires for their respective musical futures.

    Paul's a New Yorker. And in youthful arrogance, maybe he and Art used to wax about how they're the only two people in NYC truly alive, I don't know.

    With Art gone to Mexico (and perhaps gone from the duo forever), that would leave Paul as the only living boy in New York.

    Whatever the case, Paul feels alive in this song. Not bouncing off the walls, ecstatic, but at peace, content--and alive.

    "Here I am."

    At peace with the state of things--from their geographical separation, to their emotional separation, and everything between.

    I think Paul is saying, "It's all good. I'm gonna be just fine--so very fine..."
    icarusascendingon August 11, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI just saw a recent live performance of this song on YouTube. Paul performs the song solo, with Art waiting at the side. Only to come out when the 'Aaaaaaaaaaaah Aaaaaaaaaah Here I Am' part is sung. I consider this as support of my idea that the 'Aaaaaaah Here I Am' part, with its dreamy arrangement and reverbed voice, is Paul hearing his friend's voice from afar, reassuring him that he's still there for him, the way it should be in any real friendship.

    I think Paul was very ambivalent at the time: *he* was the one who wanted Simon & Garfunkel to keep on doing what they were good at: creating great songs as a duo (BOTW is simply perfect). But Art left for Mexico for reasons pertaining to a solo (acting) career. So Paul must have felt abandoned by a friend, about whom he hoped would sound from afar that he's still attached to their friendship. 'Aaaaaaaaah, Here I am'.

    In the end, it took way too long for Paul. The filming of Catch-22 was delayed, and delayed. Art making promises to Paul that he would 'return soon'. But then listen to 'Frank Lloyd Wright', a song inspired by Art's love of this architect, and written by Paul in Art's absence. At 2:57 you can hear Paul sing in a similar echoed manner, almost buried in the mix: "So long, already, Artie!', expressing how the waiting is taking its toll.
    mcouzijnon May 13, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPaul Simon wrote this as a thinly-veiled message to Art Garfunkel, referring to a specific incident where Art went down to Mexico to act in The film Catch-22. Paul was left alone in NY, hence the lonely feelings of "the only living boy". From their last album before the breakup, _Bridge Over Troubled Water_.
    hotter74on April 04, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Commentpaul refers to garfunkel as "tom" in this song as a reference to their early days when they were known as "tom & jerry". great song.
    theasthmatictbnon June 29, 2004   Link

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