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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 26 - Bridge Over Troubled Water

I never tire of saying that good music is timeless and what is often called Simon & Garfunkel's 'Signature Song', Bridge Over Troubled Water, is a good case in point. It was released on this day 46 years ago.

The instrumentation for the song was recorded in California and the vocals cut in New York. Initially Paul Simon had wanted Art Garfunkel to sing the song Solo, but Garfunkel declined that invite. But after hearing the demo Art felt that Paul should sing it! (makes me giggle a bit to think that these guys could hardly agree on anything together!)

The chorus lyrics were partly inspired by Claude Jeter's line "I'll be your bridge over deep water if you trust in me," which Jeter sang with his group, the Swan Silvertones, in the 1958 song "Mary Don't You Weep." Gospel producer and historian Anthony Heilbut told the New York Daily News that Simon acknowledged this debt of gratitude in person and had handed Claude Jeter a cheque of compensation (I don't know how much the cheque was for). It was originally written on guitar by Simon but he felt that in order to get across the Gospel sound that it should be played on Piano, that and it would work best for Art's vocal.

Producer Halee and Garfunkel felt that the song was not complete and desired a third verse. Simon agreed and wrote the third verse..."Sail on Silver Girl...". Now, over the years there has been much debate about exactly what Paul Simon was getting at here. Many have said that he is writing about drugs, heroin etc. But it should not come as a shock that it's something way more simple than that - Paul Simon writing a line for his then-wife Peggy Harper who had noticed her first grey hairs! What's funny though about this is whilst Garfunkel and Halee had insisted upon the third verse Simon himself has said that he never cared much for it! He felt that it didn't necessarily fit together well with the preceeding verses.

It was to become their most successful Single, reaching the #1 both sides of the Atlantic, France, Canada and New Zealand, and wast Top 5 in a number of other countries. It is one of the best selling Singles of all time.

The song won the Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the 1971 Grammy Awards.

Down through the years the song has been covered by a wide range of artists including Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Jimmy London (a reggae version!), Buck Owens and the Buckaroos (did the first Country version of the song), to name but a few. Most people who have released it have a had a hit with it.

Bridge Over Troubled Water
written by Paul Simon

When you're weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all
I'm on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I'll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

 Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel
Produced by Roy Halee, Simon & Garfunkel
Released 26th January 1970
US Chart #1
UK Chart #1

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!
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