Simon & Garfunkel: The Boxer Meaning
Song Released: 1969
The Boxer Lyrics
I’ve squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises
All lies and jest, still the man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest, hmmmm
When I left my home and...
Paul Simon often represented the 'poor working class' in his songs. If any one knowns the story of NYC where Paul Simon grew up, one can tell exactly the setting and background of the song. During the huge emigration movement from Europe(Ellis Island ring a bell?) There were boat loads of people daily entering New York City. Also there were a lot of people moving from the rural areas to the big cities. The problem was there weren't enough jobs to go around. Employers could pay what they wanted, you didn't have a choice and the work coditions were horrible. It is about a young man who left his home to move to the city, struggling to make a living and suffering from loneliness almost gives up on his dream. It is a common misconseption that the young man is the boxer but he isn't. He looks at the boxer and admires him for the his persistance and endurance and how he draws stength from his passed fights. He uses this to inspire himself to get back up and fight. Paul didn't not intentionally write this about himself but says during recording he came to the realization it truly was autobiographical.
stephen_melinger Mar 11th, 16:42 report
The song is about a boxer in New York City. Simon refers to athletes frequently including Joe Dimaggio and Frank Lloyd Wright who might have been a substitute subject for Garfunkel who was an architect student. The boxer in the song refers to either Joe Louis or Jack Dempsey.
anonymous Feb 15th, 08:16 report
Lila means "god's play" according to Hinduism, God gets his entertainment through human suffering and triumph. Could the chorus be "Lila", vs. "lie la"? Just a thought.
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anonymous May 8th 2012, 19:27 report
One could read the speaker as an immigrant or a hippie or Bob Dylan as much as he likes, but the fact that it is so vague is what gives it its universal appeal. To my mind, the speaker and the boxer are the same, albeit perhaps at different times or in different personae. The first few stanzas are "the reminders of ev'ry glove" that wounded him at one time. Now, however, no longer "running scared" or "laying low," he has finally "cried out in his anger and his shame," and, though the "poor boy" has left, "the fighter still remains." The same speaker, albeit with a different attitude. However, in his recollections of the past, the boxer still seems somewhat plaintive, and acknowledges that he too is the poor boy in the unrecorded verse, that "after changes, we are more or less the same." The boxer's stoic attitude seems to square with that of the speaker of one of Simon's other songs, "I Am A Rock," suggesting that certain attitudes may be right for certain times and certain seasons, though we always remain as we are. A very deep and moving piece: I recognize myself in the poor boy ten years ago, in the boxer over the past five years, and today, as a man who needs to stop fighting.
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Feb 3rd 2011, 08:38 report
A "pocketful of mumbles" is a drug reference, pills that make you incoherent. Paul must have seen a few speed freaks in New York.
OldDogNewtrix Nov 13th 2010, 01:11 report
I think this is a song of both desperation and hope in the face of desperation. A young man has gone off to the city and is surrounded by fear and loneliness. He seems to be at a crossroads. There is a verse of the song that sometimes gets included - "now the years are rolling by me, they are rocking evenly, I am older than I once was and younger than I'll be but that's not unusual. No it isnt strange. after changes upon changes we are more or less the same, after changes we are more or less the same" This is one of the predominant themes of the song. The boy is who he is. The Boxer is who he is. Despite the pain and the punches and misery, he can't give up on who he has been. He is a fighter and will always be. I assume there is honor and glory in who he is, as well as the pain and suffering he has endured. I see this as ultimately a song of hope and inspiration in the face of adversity.
mirasharpe..123 Jun 24th 2010, 09:54 report
I think that this song is the story of a person that tried to see the world and live to be happy, like most of us. When this person realised that the best life was the one that they left behind, pride kept him in the lonely place of their own making,instead of going home. Boxer is symbolic, the soul of fighter in any arena, that choses to go on with misery,pain,lonliness,instead of swallowing pride for love and family.
anonymous Oct 25th 2009, 10:46 report
I know a chap who lived in Hornchurch in Essex (England) in the 60's the same time as Paul Simon, Kathy Chitty and a successful English boxer by the name of Billy Walker. They knew each other. He knows that Billy related to Paul how tough it was for him at a New York gym as part of his training, he was homesick, unloved (visiting prostitutes) how is it autobiographical PS is from New York?
I often wonder if the image of the "Boxer" is taken from a real life character. During the 60's an x-boxer, seemingly an alcoholic or "punch drunk" would hang out at the newsstand at the Roosevelt Ave. subway stop in Queens. Considering where Paul Simon lived he must have seen him late at night shadow boxing and talking to the newsstand operator.His face clearly showed the scars of boxing.
Pamlico_140 Jul 9th 2009, 17:40 report
The Boxer is a classic Rock song that portrays it's moral and meaning through two examples- A Poor boy entering New York City, and seeking work, he cannot get himself out of poverty but keeps trying. The second is A boxer, who has great presistance. These are symbols of the moral and message of The Boxer- which is to keep trying, not to give up. It also tells of how failure happens, even with effort, as the poor boy tried to find work but "got no offers". yet he kept trying.
"pocket full of mumbles", his poetry? Is it autobiographical? Probably. But the very first time I heard it, in high school all alone in my room and suicidal, I thought it was about me, foreshadowing the journy my life would take. And it has. Never give up is its message. We are all boxers and fighters by our trade.
Paul Simon uses the Boxer as a metaphor for his own life as a musician. Leaving home, starting out broke, playing small clubs, etc. Perhaps by 1970 he felt 'beat up' by the pressures of being a singer/songwriter, so he used The Boxer to represent himself. "A pocket full of mumbles" seems to hint in the song that he's really writing about himself.
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