“A Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon & Garfunkel

Referencing seasons to point to different dispositions or what have you is amongst the most-effective metaphors that songwriters sometimes lean on. And in the case of “A Hazy Shade of Winter” that’s exactly what Paul Simon opted to do. Most consistently, the time of year he references is winter, i.e. the season of depression, in a manner of speaking. And the vocalist is doing so to allude to what he is going through internally, as in the perceived trajectory of his life.

It has been offered that Simon is relaying these lyrics from the perspective of a poet – a theory that is verified in the fourth verse – who has lost hope. Well, we know that this doesn’t speak to his personal or at least concurrent situation when he wrote it, as Simon did so shortly after the release of “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”, which proved to a be a pretty successful album for him and Garfunkel.

What the lyrics further reveal is that internally the vocalist is going through a hard time – something like a midlife crisis if you will – where he’s looking at himself and is not impressed with what he’s accomplished thus far. Relatedly, the second verse can be interpreted as him being impoverished, as in being in need of assistance from the Salvation Army, which is a well-known charity organization.

And it may also be such an institution that inspired the third verse, where the vocalist comes off as if he’s regularly the recipient of uplifting advice. But actually feeling more optimistic is easier said than done. However, it does appear that he makes an attempt. But the fourth verse and outro take us back to the first, i.e. the vocalist rather perceiving winter all around.

Simon and Garfunkel, "Hazy Shade of Winter" Lyrics

Facts about “A Hazy Shade of Winter”

This track was released on 22 October 1966. It was originally a standalone release but eventually serving as the lead single to 1968’s “Bookends”, which proved to be Simon & Garfunkel’s penultimate studio album. As such, “A Hazy Shade of Winter” was actually recorded when the pair was working on “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”, i.e. their third studio album, which actually did come out in 1966.

“A Hazy Shade of Winter” made it onto the top 30 of the UK Singles Chart. It also achieved top 20 status on the both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100. Where it performed most impressively was in Canada, where the song peaked at number 11 on RPM Top Singles. To note this track was covered, to greater success, by The Bangles in 1987.

My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way and Ray Toro also covered this tune in 2019 for usage on Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy series.

“A Hazy Shade of Winter” was written by Paul Simon during the mid-1960s. This was when he spent about a year in England. And Bob Johnston (1932-2015), arguably one of the most notable behind-the-scene’ musicians of the late-20th century, produced the track.

Hazy Shade of Winter

The “Bookends” Album

“Bookends” is an album by arguably the biggest rock duos of the 1960s, Simon & Garfunkel. The duo released “Bookends” on April 3 of 1968 as their 4th studio album.

Recording was done between 1966 and 1968 at Columbia Studio B & E, located in Manhattan, New York City. “Bookends” was produced through the collaborative efforts of the group and Roy Halee, an American singer, record producer and a long-time collaborator of Simon & Garfunkel.

The album got into the public domain through Columbia Records, a record label under Sony Music Group.

“Bookends”, considered by many as the best album from Simon & Garfunkel, became the turning point in their music career. Receiving many accolades and positive reviews from industry players, it established the duo as a group to reckon with in the world of rock music.

Despite the album’s release coinciding with the death of American civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr., it was met with overwhelming support from the public. Martin was assassinated on the 4th of April, 1968, barely 24 hours after the official release of the album.   

“Bookends” was No. 1 in the US as well as the UK. Aside from the US and the UK, the album put up a splendid performance in a number of countries, including France and Australia, where it peaked at No. 3.


In 1990, “Bookends”, ranked at these positions on the following lists by Rolling Stone:

  • No. 21 on “The Top 25 Rock & Roll Albums of the ’60s” (published in 1990)
  • No. 234 on “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” (published in 2012)

During a review by British website NME, the album was given an enviable rating of 4 out of 5 stars. It got featured in the book, “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die”. The said book was authored by Robert Dimery and published in 2005. “Bookends” was placed at the 338th spot on the list, “All Time Top 1000 Albums”, published in 2000 by British writer, Colin Larkin.

In 1969, “Bookends” won Simon & Garfunkel two Grammy awards, courtesy, its fourth single, “Mrs. Robinson”. The song won the awards for “Best Contemporary Pop Performance by a Duo or Group” as well as “Record of the Year”. Prior to the win, no rock and roll song had ever won the “Record of the Year” award at the Grammys.

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