NPR’s Jenna Strucko speaks of the album “Bookends” as “reuniting with an old friend I didn't know that I had.” Some categorize maestro Paul Simon’s song as the “missing link between Motown and punk rock,” with lyrics “acutely conscious of time passing.” Still others (curiously) consider the track a suitable replacement for a great Hanukkah theme. It’s clear “A Hazy Shade of Winter” is a timeless classic with deep and varied importance to many.
Written by Simon, and sung together with his friend and longtime collaborator Art Garfunkel, the song was released as a single in 1966 and included on the 1968 “Bookends” album, their fourth studio collection together. It rose to number 13 on the Billboard charts. Years later, in 1987, the song would be repurposed as a cover by the band, The Bangles, as part of the soundtrack for Marek Kanievska's film, “Less Than Zero.” The cover version reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 list.
The original Simon and Garfunkel track featured drummer Hal Blaine, a seemingly omnipresent drum kit player of the sixties largely known for his collaborations with Phil Spector in the producer’s session band, The Wrecking Crew. In addition to Simon and Garfunkel, Blaine performed on recordings with Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and The Supremes, The Beach Boys, Barbra Streisand, Leonard Cohen, The Ronettes, Roy Orbison, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sonny and Cher, and Steely Dan, and would help establish a drumming style that informed and influenced drummers for decades to come.
“When I was growing up, I played along to the radio, so I played along to Simon and Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, the Association and the Byrds, and I was really playing along to Hal Blaine,” recalled Rush drummer Neil Peart in 2011.