Although its glistening, cascading guitar lines seem to float by as gently as a bubbling country stream, the recording of the The Boxer was anything but smooth. Over 100 hours of studio time in multiple facilities and cities were required to capture the intricate fingerpicked guitar parts played by Paul Simon and session man Fred Carter Jr.
Featured on Simon & Garfunkel’s swan song, Bridge Over Troubled Water, The Boxer begins as a lilting folk poem and builds to a shattering, thunderous conclusion. When it first appeared, it was widely assumed that the lyrics concerning a “poor boy” who arrives in New York City were about Bob Dylan. While Simon has gone on record as saying that the song is largely autobiographical, Dylan seemed to prefer the first explanation, as he covered The Boxer on his 1970 album, Self-Portrait.