"Old Friends" as written by and Paul Simon....
Old friends, old friends,
Sat on their parkbench like bookends
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
of the high shoes of the old friends

Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sun
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settles like dust on the shoulders of the old friends

Can you imagine us years from today,
Sharing a parkbench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy

Old friends, memory brushes the same years,
Silently sharing the same fears


Lyrics submitted by kevin

"Old Friends" as written by Paul Simon

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Old Friends song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentOne correction to the posted lyrics:
    Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sunSET.

    This is much more significant...the sunset represents the end of their lives.

    "How terribly strange to be seventy" I love that line. Coming from young men, they see it as being strange in the future. I feel the same way.
    rsterpon March 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI can't believe nobody's said anything about this song!! It is clearly a portrayal of the future for Paul and Art. It's sad; I went to the Old Friends concert in Chicago. Paul didn't seem to like being there. So much for "Old Friends."
    sgdpon May 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCLEARLY, TO ME, AFTER PLAYING HIS SONG MANY TIMES ON LP, CD AND MY OWN GUITAR IT HAS COME TO ME IN MY MIDDLE-AGE AS BEING A SONG ABOUT DEATH AND LONELINESS. AS A YOUNG PERSON IT DIDN'T RELATE TO MY CIRCUMSTANCES AT ALL BUT NOW THAT I'M 56 AND ILL IT SURE RINGS TRUE
    TOOCHIS1on February 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe line 'How terribly strange to be 70' is even sadder now that the person who wrote it almost is - he's 63, I think. I was shocked to hear that Paul didn't look happy at the Old Friends Concert in Chicago, I thought for once that they'd resolved their arguments. Obviously not.
    Anyhoo, divine song, love the soaring music and glowing lyrics. rsterp, you're right, the lyric is sunset, and your interpretation of that is bang on. I never thought of it that way: it's so sad.
    starangelon May 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment'How terribly strange to be 70' is probably one of the greatest lyrics of all time.
    theglovecompartmenton June 07, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHmm, so I read somewhere comments about Simon and Garfunkel's relationship and I like how they analize it: they are like the "old friends" of the song, but at the same time, they have to give each other space and distance. However, no matter what happens, whenever one of them wants to see the other, they ll always have each other.
    miguel82on December 31, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAmazing song - truly spine-tingling. Like any of Paul Simon's songs it's observational - probably inspired by two old guys he saw sat on a park bench somewhere. However now that they (S&G) have grown older, it seems have more meaning for both them, and us as listeners. On the "Old Friends" tour I went to, they opened with this - I bet they never thought they could be singing a song that now pretty much explains their own relationship...
    lozi_muriason March 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI, too, am surprised that so few people have commented on this song. Paul Simon will always continue to awe me with his lyrics, no matter how many times I listen to these songs. Even just today it finally hit me why rhyming "old friends" with "bookends" is one of the most emotionally moving combination of words I have ever heard. I have heard this song so many times, but when I thought about the concept of old friends being like bookends, it really hit me. I used to think it was just imagery to show how the friends are just sitting in silence on a park bench. But think about it. Bookends hold books together that contain stories. The image of old friends being like bookends is so incredibly true and moving. Two old friends, sitting on a park bench, countless stories and memories between them.

    Absolutely brilliant.
    MNTwinsfanon March 16, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Song Meaning"Sat on their parkbench like bookends"

    "Sharing a parkbench quietly"

    They're sharing a park bench, but they are sitting with a space between them (as bookends do). They're old friends, but time has dried up their conversation and they have nothing left to say.
    enchion January 10, 2014   Link

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