Simon & Garfunkel

A Hazy Shade of Winter

Composed by Paul Simon

Song Review by

"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.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1967 CBS Records
Bookends 1968 Columbia 2:17
Collected Works 1981 Columbia 2:17
The Simon and Garfunkel Collection: 17 of Their All-Time Greatest Recordings 1981 Smm 2:18
Old Friends 1997 Columbia / Legacy 2:17
The Best of Simon & Garfunkel 1999 Columbia / Legacy 2:17
The Very Best of Simon & Garfunkel: Tales from New York 2000 Columbia / Legacy 2:19
The Columbia Studio Recordings, 1964-1970 2001 Legacy / Columbia 2:17
No Image 2002 Sony Music Distribution 2:17
The Essential Simon & Garfunkel 2003 Columbia / Legacy 2:18
No Image 2004 Sony Music Distribution 2:17
Bookends/Sounds of Silence 2009 Legacy 2:17
The Essential 3.0 2010 Columbia / Legacy / Sony Legacy 2:17
The Complete Albums Collection 2014 Sony Legacy 3:33