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Music / Bridge Over Troubled Water

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When you're down and out, when you're on the street
When evening falls so hard, I will comfort you
Then I'm laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone, going home
Where the New York City winters aren't bleeding me
Leading me, going home

In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down
Or cut him 'til he cried out in his anger and his shame
"I am leaving, I am leaving," but the fighter still remains
"The Boxer"

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. 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.


Side One

  1. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (4:52)
  2. "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)" (3:06)
  3. "Cecilia" (2:55)
  4. "Keep the Customer Satisfied" (2:33)
  5. "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" (3:41)

Side Two

  1. "The Boxer" (5:08)
  2. "Baby Driver" (3:14)
  3. "The Only Living Boy in New York" (3:58)
  4. "Why Don't You Write Me?" (2:45)
  5. "Bye Bye Love (Live)" (2:55)
  6. "Song for the Asking" (1:49)

Bonus Tracks (2001 Reissue):

  1. "Feuilles-O" (1:45)
  2. "Bridge Over Troubled Water (Demo)" (4:46)

Principal Members:

  • Art Garfunkel - lead vocals
  • Paul Simon - lead vocals, guitar

Song for the Troping:

  • Big Applesauce: "The Only Living Boy in New York".
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: The album cover goes out of its way to emphasize this dynamic, with the front cover photo showing Simon barely getting to Garfunkel's chin, while the back cover photo also shows the two of them walking together with Garfunkel being much taller.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Echoing Acoustics: The backing vocals on "The Only Living Boy in New York," recorded in an echo chamber.
  • 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:
    • "Cecilia"
      Making love in the afternoon
      With Cecilia up in my bedroom
      I get up to wash my face
      When I come back to bed, someone's taken my place
    • "Baby Driver"
      There's no-one home, we're all alone
      Oh come into my room and play
      Yes we can play.
      I'm not talking about your pigtails
      But I'm talking 'bout your sex appeal
      Hit the road and I'm gone ah
      What's my number?
      I wonder how your engine feels?
  • 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.
  • Miniscule Rocking: "Song for the Asking" is under two minutes.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The mournful "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 small
    When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all
    I'm on your side when times get rough
    And friends just can't be found
    Like 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.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Title Track was inspired by this lyric from the Swan Silvertones' Gospel Music Song "Mary Don't You Weep":
      I'll be your bridge over deep water if you trust in me
    • 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.
  • 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, Audience!: "Keep the Customer Satisfied".
    Everywhere I go, I get slandered, libeled
    I hear words I never heard in the Bible
    And I'm one step ahead of the shoe shine
    Two steps away from the county line
    Just trying to keep my customers satisfied
  • Titled After the Song:
  • 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. It was actually what amounted to a Peruvian show tune, composed by writer/musician Daniel Alomía Robles in 1913 for a zarzuela (a musical play based on Spanish theatrical traditions) called El Cóndor Pasa ("The Condor Passes"), about a miners in an Andes village.
    • Simon has said that "Why Don't You Write Me?" was conceived as a Reggae song, but by the time it was recorded the arrangement had gotten watered-down.