Story of the Song: Hazy Shade of Winter, The Bangles (1987)
Friday 26 November 2010
In 1982 Susanna Hoffs was juggling her role fronting The Bangles with a day job in a ceramics factory. Her only company was the oldies station on the radio. "It was very lonely in this room, all by myself, all day," said Hoffs.
One morning Simon & Garfunkel's "A Hazy Shade of Winter" crackled across the floor. Written by Paul Simon during his sojourn in England and issued as a single in 1966, it was, by the Eighties, better known as a track on the 1968 album 'Bookends'. "When I heard that song, I thought, that's so perfect for The Bangles," said Hoffs, who began including it in her band's live sets.
Fast forward to 1987, when Hoffs was asked to come up with material for the soundtrack to Marek Kanievska's film 'Less than Zero'. "Hazy Shade of Winter", a chilly view of how time crushes youth, fit the bill perfectly. Simon's austere opening bars, delivered in the original version on a tambourine and acoustic guitar, were converted by the producer Rick Rubin into a bludgeoning riff. The band rattled through their cover, omitting the final verse altogether. It was issued as a single on Rubin's Def Jam label and, unexpectedly, charted.
The ultimate tribute came in 2003, when Simon & Garfunkel reunited for the Old Friends concert and rearranged "A Hazy Shade of Winter" from The Bangles' cover. Hoffs met with Simon after their single was a hit. "I don't think we talked about it much," she said. "I remember he was very sweet, and I'm sure he was happy the song had done so well."
It eventually charted in the UK for Simon & Garfunkel in 1991.
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