Bridge Over Troubled Water is the fifth and final studio album by Simon & Garfunkel, released in 1970.
It is one of the best-selling albums of all time. It scored hit songs with the title track, "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)", "The Boxer" and "Cecilia" and was awarded the 1971 Grammy Award for Album Of The Year. It was listed at #51 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and Time Magazine included the album in their 2006 list of 100 timeless and essential albums. A weird, but true fact is that former US President Lyndon Johnson listened a lot to this album in the final years of his life, because it cheered him up when he felt down.
Despite the global success tensions were already noticeable between the duo and after the release they decided to split up.
- "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (4:52)
- "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)" (3:06)
- "Cecilia" (2:55)
- "Keep the Customer Satisfied" (2:33)
- "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" (3:41)
- "The Boxer" (5:08)
- "Baby Driver" (3:14)
- "The Only Living Boy in New York" (3:58)
- "Why Don't You Write Me?" (2:45)
- "Bye Bye Love (Live)" (2:55)
- "Song for the Asking" (1:49)
Bonus Tracks (2001 Reissue):
- "Feuilles-O" (1:45)
- "Bridge Over Troubled Water (Demo)" (4:46)
- Art Garfunkel - lead vocals
- Paul Simon - lead vocals, guitar
Song for the Troping:
- Break-Up Song: "Cecilia" and "Bye Bye Love". Most of the album has a feeling of breaking up and saying goodbye. Not surprising seeing that the band itself wasn't getting along as well as they used to. "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" was for instance written by Simon as a veiled reference to Garfunkel, something Garfunkel himself wasn't informed about at the time.
- Big Applesauce: "The Only Living Boy in New York".
- Cover Version: The 1913 Daniel Alomía Robles song "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)" and The Everly Brothers song "Bye Bye Love". A version of the Haitian folk song "Feuilles-O" was recorded but was left off the album (but has since been released as a bonus track)—Garfunkel would later record his own solo version.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The affirmations in the verses of "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)":I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail
Yes I would, if I could, I surely would
I'd rather be a hammer than a nail
Yes I would, if I only could, I surely would
- Face on the Cover: Simon and Garfunkel are shown in full frontal close-up, walking behind each other.
- A Friend in Need: "Bridge Over Troubled Water"I'm on your side / When times get rough / And friends just can't be found
- Gospel Choirs Are Just Better: "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was influenced by gospel music, specifically the Swan Silvertones' "Mary Don't You Weep", which has an immediate lyrical inspiration in the song. Despite that the song has no huge choir, but the piano work is certainly similar to a gospel tune.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: This is most notably expressed in "The Only Living Boy in New York" which is basically about Paul missing Art (the "Tom" in the song; in the early days when they performed as "Tom and Jerry", Art was "Tom") when the latter went to Mexico to film Catch-22.
- In the Style of...: The arrangement of the title track used Phil Spector's productions for The Righteous Brothers as a model, particularly their version of "Ol' Man River".
- Intercourse with You:
Making love in the afternoon with CeciliaUp in my bedroomI got up to wash my faceWhen I come back to bedSomeone's taken my place
There's no-one home, we're all aloneOh come into my room and playYes we can play.I'm not talking about your pigtailsBut I'm talking 'bout your sex appealHit the road and I'm gone ahWhat's my number?I wonder how your engine feels?
- "Baby Driver"
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "Baby Driver", which sounds like an innocent children's song if you look at the title, but is actually 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.
- If you don't pay attention to the lyrics, "Bye Bye Love" sounds very upbeat. The lyrics sound like they're nearing the Despair Event Horizon.
- Mood Whiplash:
- The mournful, Tearjerker "The Boxer" is followed by the far more upbeat in tone "Baby Driver".
- A less extreme example is that the rather upbeat-sounding (despite its lyrics) "Bye Bye Love" fades directly into the warm but wistful "Song for the Asking".
- Obsession Song: "Why Don't You Write Me", complete with a threat of suicide near the end.
- One Head Taller: Put to good use on the album cover.
- One-Man Song: "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright".
- One-Woman Song: "Cecilia".
- Pep-Talk Song: "Bridge Over Troubled Water".When you're weary, feeling smallWhen tears are in your eyes, I will dry them allI'm on your side when times get roughAnd friends just can't be foundLike a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down
- Questioning Title?: "Why Don't You Write Me?".
- Rockumentary: Simon And Garfunkel: Songs Of America is a rather unique television special that aired on CBS in 1969. Much of the special is a fairly conventional rockumentary featuring interviews with the duo, footage of the duo working in the studio, and film from the 1969 tour. This portion includes Early Bird Cameos of "The Boxer", "Bridge Over Troubled Water", and "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright". The rest of the film is a series of montages of the social and historical upheavals of The '60s (civil rights protest, Robert F. Kennedy's funeral train, etc), with Simon and Garfunkel songs as the musical accompaniment.
- Scatting: "The Boxer" and its "Lie la lie" chorus.
- The line "I'l be your bridge over deep water if you trust in me" from the song "Mary Don't You Weep" by Swan Silverstones was the inspiration for the title track.
- The "silver girl" in "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is a reference to Simon's wife Peggy.
- "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" is a tribute to architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
- Something Completely Different: "Baby Driver" (a silly little Intercourse with You song in great contrast to the very serious tone of most of the other songs) and "Bye Bye Love" (a cover of The Everly Brothers, and possibly a Call-Back to their earlier years as "Tom and Jerry").
- Stock Sound Effects: "Baby Driver" has car noises.
- Streetwalker: The speaker in "The Boxer" says he tried to get a job but all he got was "a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue."I do declare/There were times when I was so lonesome I took some comfort there
- Studio Chatter: While Garfunkel sings "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright"'s fade-out to the words so long producer Roy Halee is heard on the recording calling out: So long already, Artie!
- Take That!: "The Boxer" was interpreted as one of these to Bob Dylan. Simon has jossed that interpretation, explaining that it was actually about himself in a period he felt like he was constantly criticized. Dylan's own Cover Version was seen as a Take That! in return.
- Take That, Audience!: "Keep the Customer Satisfied".Everywhere I go, I get slandered, libeledAnd I'm one step ahead of the shoe shineTwo steps away from the county lineJust trying to keep my customers satisfied
- Titled After the Song:
- 2017 saw the release of two films named after songs on this album, Baby Driver and The Only Living Boy In New York.
- Shining Norway's first album Where the Ragged People Go takes its title from "The Boxer" ("When I left my home and my family, I was no more than a boy, in the company of strangers in the quiet of the railway station, running scared, laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters where the ragged people go, looking for the places only they would know").
- World Music: "El Cóndor Pasa (If I Could)" has a decidedly Peruvian atmosphere, down to the panflute playing. Simon based the song on a traditional Peruvian folk tune- or so he thought, because it turned out to be a 1913 composition by Peruvian musician Daniel Alomía Robles.