Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel

1970

This album has sold around 25 million records which meant that, at the time, it was the best selling album of all time. It was the fifth and last studio album recorded by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

In 1964, Simon & Garfunkel recorded an album called “Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.” which was produced by Tom Wilson. The album was not a commercial success at the time and the duo split up with Art Garfunkel returning to college and Paul Simon travelling to the U.K., where he had become well known on the folk circuit. In January 1965, Tom Wilson produced Bob Dylan’s album “Bringing It All Back Home”, which had acoustic songs on Side Two and, for the first time, electric arrangements for the songs on Side One. Tom Wilson’s last work with Bob Dylan was producing “Like A Rolling Stone” in June 1965. The day after that session, he recorded an electric backing for one of the songs on “Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.” called “The Sound Of Silence” without the permission or knowledge of Paul Simon or Art Garfunkel. The singe was released in September 1965 and became a Number One hit. This caused the duo to reform, rather against their instincts.

Simon & Garfunkel contributed five songs to the soundtrack of “The Graduate”, a film directed by Mike Nichols whose next film was “Catch 22”. Art Garfunkel took the role of Captain Nately in this film and Paul Simon was offered the part of Dunbar in the film but the screenwriter, Buck Henry, later wrote the part out. Once filming had finished in November 1969, Simon & Garfunkel recorded the album, completing it in January 1970. The musicians on the album were members of The Wrecking Crew: Fred Carter Jr. (guitar), Hal Blaine (drums), Joe Osborn (bass) and Larry Knetchel (keyboards).

The Swan Silvertones were a gospel group from West Virginia, formed in 1938. They combined two contrasting but impressive styles: close barbershop harmonies and virtuoso lead singing with their contrasting styles – Claude Jeter was a tenor who could sing falsetto, Paul Owens was a crooner, and Louis Johnson was a hard shouter. In the 1940’s they were given their own radio show, sponsored by Swan Bakeries and so they changed their name from The Silvertone Singers to The Swan Silvertones. One of the songs they sung was a Spiritual song from before the American civil war called “O Mary Don’t You Weep”. It is listed as 11823 in the Roud Song Index. The song tells a story from the Bible when Mary Magdalene begs Jesus to raise her brother, Lazarus, from the dead. Different versions of the song have been recorded by James Brown, and Aretha Franklin amongst others. The version by The Swan Silvertones includes the line “I’ll be your bridge over deep water if you trust in my name Mary”. Paul Simon loved the song and used this line as the inspiration to write “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. In 2015, The Swan Silvertones’ version of the song was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry for the song’s “cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s audio legacy.”

“Baby Driver” is a pretty up-tempo song about a boy who lives a comfortable life in a protected home, but who searches for adventures and one day decides to have his first sexual experience. The recording features car noises. The film “Baby Driver”, from 2017, includes the Simon & Garfunkel song at the end and the title sequence is one of the most remarkable three minutes of film you’ll ever see. It’s one complete take with “Harlem Shuffle” by Bob and Earl playing over a street scene in which Ansel Elgort goes to buy some coffee. Street graffiti shows the words “right”, “whole lotta”, “soul”, “scratch”, “yeah you do”, “yeah”, “left”, “here”, “come on baby”, “woah woah woah”, “come on baby”, in perfect synchronicity with the vocals of the song. At the same time, the actor mimics some of the cartoon depictions of musicians on the walls and shop displays. He also says “yeah yeah” in the coffee shop in sync with the lyrics. As a pretty girl walks by, a grey smudge of graffiti has turned into a red heart. It’s unbelievably clever and it comes right after the opening teaser which is the most exciting car chase of all time.

“The Only Living Boy In New York” was written by Paul Simon while Art Garfunkel was filming “Catch-22”. References are made to “Tom” in the song which harks back to their first release,” Hey Schoolgirl” when they called themselves Tom and Jerry. Art Garfunkel called himself Tom Graph because of his love of mathematics whereas Paul Simon called himself Jerry Landis after the surname of a girl he had dated. In 2017, the same year that the film “Baby Driver” was released, a director called Marc Webb released a film called “The Only Living Boy In New York” , starring Pierce Brosnan, Kate Beckinsale and Jeff Bridges. “Rotten Tomatoes”, the film review aggregator scored this film as 34%, compared with 92% for “Baby Driver”.

After “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was released, Art Garfunkel wanted to work out an arrangement with Paul Simon, where he would record music for six months and do movies for the remaining six. Simon did not like the idea at all. When Art Garfunkel took a role in the film, “Carnal Knowledge” without telling his partner, “it really pissed me off, and I just decided that’s the end of that. I don’t want to do this anymore,” according to Paul Simon.

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

3 thoughts on “Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel

  1. This is in my top ten albums of all time and my favourite track on it is “The Only Living Boy in New York. I like it so much I’ve just bought it on vinyl and because there’s actually no practical reason for owning anything on vinyl, it’s the highest compliment I can pay!

    Liked by 1 person

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