"Hazy Shade of Winter" was a sizable hit for Simon & Garfunkel in late 1966, reaching number 13, although it's not quite as frequently played or famous as their biggest smashes. That's unfortunate, as "Hazy Shade of Winter" was one of their best songs, and certainly one of the toughest and more rock-oriented by a duo more noted for being relatively mild and dignified. A brusque, stiff drum rhythm sets the pace on the opening instrumental section, built around an edgy, up and down guitar riff; the melody and arrangement of the instrumental section are duplicated on the track's subsequent vocal choruses. The lyric is one of Simon's more downbeat early ones, particularly on the chorus, with its images of leaves turning brown (perhaps subconsciously influenced by the brown leaves in John Phillips' slightly earlier "California Dreamin'"?) and the sky looking like a hazy shade of winter. Though the verse is less melodically memorable than the chorus, it's commendably urgent and well-arranged, particularly in the lonely bleats of trumpet after some of the lines, and the part at the ending where the bass and a bassoon busily bring the verse to a climax. There's only a brief bridge here -- and we're not talking about the 59th Street bridge! -- which, though not as vital a part of the song as the main courses, does serve the purpose of adding a little bit more of a dark clouds gathering feel. It's also nifty how the song comes to an unexpected dead, final stop on the last chorus, after the line about a patch of snow on the ground. In the 1980s the song was revived from an unexpected quarter, when the Bangles put it on the soundtrack of Less Than Zero.