Simon & Garfunkel

At the Zoo

Song Review by

Like many of Simon & Garfunkel's songs of their later period, "At the Zoo" is a multi-leveled piece, combining childish whimsy with serious, poignant social statements. On the surface, the song is a simple take on the pleasures of going to the New York City Zoo, complete with a description of the journey there. However, the lyrics in the final verse describe the dispositions of the different animals ("zebras are reactionaries/Antelopes are missionaries"), which draws a parable of human behavior. All of this adds up to the civilized "human" world as the real zoo. Musically, it's a fun and funky romp. Opening with a delicate acoustic guitar pattern, it slips into a walking piano and bass guitar pattern and also features some excellent studio performances, most notably Hal Blaine's drum work. The final section of the song finds the momentum escalating, culminating in a neo-African chant from Garfunkel, which foreshadowed the group (and Paul Simon's) later forays into what would be called world music.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Bookends 1968 Columbia 2:22
Collected Works 1981 Columbia 2:22
The Simon and Garfunkel Collection: 17 of Their All-Time Greatest Recordings 1981 Smm 2:18
Old Friends 1997 Columbia / Legacy 2:23
The Best of Simon & Garfunkel 1999 Columbia / Legacy 2:24
The Very Best of Simon & Garfunkel: Tales from New York 2000 Columbia / Legacy 2:24
The Columbia Studio Recordings, 1964-1970 2001 Legacy / Columbia 2:32
No Image 2002 Sony Music Distribution 2:23
The Essential Simon & Garfunkel 2003 Columbia / Legacy 2:23
No Image 2004 Sony Music Distribution 2:21
Raising Helen 2004
Original Soundtrack
Hollywood 2:22
Bookends/Sounds of Silence 2009 Legacy 2:32
The Essential 3.0 2010 Columbia / Legacy / Sony Legacy 2:23
The Complete Albums Collection 2014 Sony Legacy 2:22