So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright

Album: Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

Songfacts®:

  • Frank Lloyd Wright is a famous architect. Art Garfunkel majored in architecture at Columbia University because he thought his career as a musician might never pan out. Simon, knowing that his musical partner was a big fan of Wright, used his name in the title.
  • The idea for this song came in the summer of 1969 when Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were renting a house in the Hollywood Hills and working on the Bridge Over Troubled Water album. Garfunkel noticed a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and mentioned it to Simon, suggesting he write a song about the architect.
  • Paul Simon says that there was a Brazilian influence in this song, but isn't really sure how he came up with the chord changes. The strings in the song were arranged by Jimme Haskell, who was brought in to work on this song and the track "Keep the Customer Satisfied."
  • This song can also be interpreted as a goodbye from Paul to Art since Bridge Over Troubled Water was their last album together. The phrase "I remember the nights we'd harmonize till dawn, I never laughed so long, so long, so long..." The repeated use of "so long" can be interpreted as a goodbye. In an interview in the July 2011 edition of Mojo magazine Paul Simon said: "Singing that on 'So Long Frank Lloyd Wright' kind of fitted, because Artie had been an architecture student. But I guess the bigger picture was that him flying down to Mexico (to film Catch 22) was a disappointment I was trying to block out.

    When we'd finished work on The Graduate, Mike (Nichols, director) asked us if we'd like to be in his next movie, Catch 22, and naturally we were thrilled. Then a few weeks before shooting was due to start, Mike called me up and said, 'Look, the screenplay is so long we're going to have to write your character out. And I guess that means Artie will be out too.' I said, 'No - don't take him out just because I'm out.' So Artie went to Mexico and that was the main reason Simon & Garfunkel broke up. But I think we would have broken up anyway. All duos do. It's just too hard. When one person does all the writing the stress is very difficult to manage." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kristy - La Porte City, IA
  • This song recalls "All of the nights we'd harmonize till dawn," but Simon and Garfunkel don't harmonize on this one. Garfunkel sings it solo, except for a section in the bridge, where Simon sings: "Architects may go and never change your point of view."

    On Bridge Over Troubled Water, the duo separated their voices on many of the songs, which was a departure from their previous work.
  • There's a funny line at the end that you have to listen to carefully. Art Garfunkel sings "So Long" so many times that their producer, Roy Halee, responds with "So Long Already, Artie!"
  • In Ayn Rand's book Fountainhead, the character Howard Roark was loosely based on Frank Lloyd Wright. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Chetan - Bangalore, India
  • Art Garfunkel told Artist Direct in a 2012 interview: "'So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright'…that's a wink from Simon to Garfunkel, 'So long Artie. We'll be splitting up next year. You may not know it yet.' That's what 'So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright' is."

Comments: 11

  • Glenn from Minneapolis, Mn"I said to Paul this summer while we were living in California, why don't you write a song about Frank Lloyd Wright, simply because in my past I was studying to be an architect and I was always very fond of Frank Lloyd Wright. And to my surprise, he wrote the following song." Art Garfunkel at the Simon $ Garfunkel concert at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio -- November 11, 1969.

    At the same concert, Paul Simon said: "We haven't been around in about a year. Perhaps you've missed us. During that period, Arthur became a movie star. He will shortly appear in Mike Nichol's follow-up picture to the graduate, 'Catch 22.' I wasn't in that picture, (audience laughter) because nobody much cares about the little songwriter of the group anymore. I'm just left to write my songs about sex and drugs (laughter) whatever."

    This song is definitely NOT about Frank Lloyd Wright! So long Artie!
  • Peter from Zoetermeer, NetherlandsI remember that - (very) many years ago, I read a Paul Simon interview in Playboy Magazine. In this interview there are remarks about the meaning of "The only living boy In New York" (about Art's going filming in Mexico), as well as "So long, Frank Lloyd Wright". If I remember correctly, this song was meant to be about Art Garfunkel, and that the lines "Architects may come and architect may go, and never change your point of view" were meant to refer to the fact that Art had particular ideas about songwriting / song-performing, and was quite headstrong (hence "... never change your point of view").

    Please note that it has been a few decades ago that I read the aforementioned interview, so please don't hold it against me if my statements turn out to be (partially) incorrect.

    Peter H. Kort, Netherlands
  • Kevin from Reading , PaThis song is in the tradition of other great songs where the singer is saying goodbye -- at least temporarily -- to a partner or music collaborator while they are still together. Other examples are Springtseen's "Bobby Jean" (farewell to Miami Steve, who was embarking on his solo career, such as it was); Buffalo Springfield's "One the Way Home," Neil's kiss off to his band mates) The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/The End" medley by McCartney to his fellow bandmates.
  • Frank from Nottingham, England I always believed that Art did study architecture and because of this Frank Lloyd Wright was Paul's nickname for Art. It was then used as a cryptic way of saying goodbye to Art after BOTW. Frank G. Nottingham England
  • Alan from Mesa, AzMiksi, the FLLW Foundation (Wright used a double middle initial) site (franklloydwright.org) says: "Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin, on June 8, 1867, and died in Phoenix, Arizona, on April 9, 1959, at the age of 91."

    Alyssa: Garfunkel's official site (artgarfunkel.com) says: "Art took art history at Columbia College, where he also mastered the fine art of architecture for a graduate degree."
  • Miksi from Salem, OrIn what year did FLW die?
  • Alyssa from Greenwich, CtThis is completely wrong, neiter Paul Simon nor Art Garfunkle studied to be an architect. I am doing a portfolio promect on Frank Lloyd wright and im writing an anlysis on this song. I checked many biographies on both Simon and Garfunkle and neither one were going to be a architect.
  • Daan from Tegelen, NetherlandsI agree that the song is a farewell to Art Garfunkel. I misheard the lyrics as 'Arthur keeps me coming, Arthur keeps me going' and found the link rather obvious.
    Subliminality?
  • Michelle from Boston, MaIn response to Steve, Simon often states in concerts, etc. that "The Only Living Boy in New York" was written when Garfunkel went to Mexico to film Catch 22, and (so he says) he misses him. It could be a dig at Art for leaving him to write the music all alone, but either way it wasn't about their split.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoI agree with the interpretation that it's a farewell to Garfunkel by Simon. I didn't know Garfunkel had studied to be an architect...that even makes more sense. It's a goodbye, and not a very diplomatic one at that. The line in the song The Only Living Boy in New York of "I know that you're ready to fly now" is another clue of the split.
  • David from Brookfield, WiInteresting to read these comments. I'd always thought the song's subject was an experience common to many younger people who discover some heroic figure -- writer, musician, architect, whatever -- then find that this figure happened to die shortly before that discovery. Simon, I imagined, became a great FLW fan just a little too late for any chance to look him up, then wrote this song about that disappointment. Probably nothing to my old impression, but it might reflect some of the composition's resonance. -- David, Brookfield, WI
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Gene Simmons of KissSongwriter Interviews

The Kiss rocker covers a lot of ground in this interview, including why there are no Kiss collaborations, and why the Rock Hall has "become a sham."

Who Wrote That Song?Music Quiz

Do you know who wrote Patti Smith's biggest hit? How about the Grease theme song? See if you can match the song to the writer.

Francesca BattistelliSongwriter Interviews

The 2011 Artist of the Year at the Dove Awards isn't your typical gospel diva, and she thinks that's a good thing.

Lita FordSongwriter Interviews

Lita talks about how they wrote songs in The Runaways, and how she feels about her biggest hit being written by somebody else.

Allen Toussaint - "Southern Nights"They're Playing My Song

A song he wrote and recorded from "sheer spiritual inspiration," Allen's didn't think "Southern Nights" had hit potential until Glen Campbell took it to #1 two years later.

LecraeSongwriter Interviews

The Christian rapper talks about where his trip to Haiti and his history of addiction fit into his songs.