Simon and Garfunkel: "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

Hip hop singer Mary J. Blige and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli brought down the house at the Grammy Awards in January when they paired to perform “Bridge over Troubled Water.” Later released as a single, the proceeds will go to Haitian relief efforts.

First released in 1970, it was title song of Simon and Garfunkel’s last album together and is considered one of the best in rock history. Written by Paul Simon while partner Art Garfunkel was in Europe filming “Catch-22.” Simon told Jon Landau in 1972 (cited here) that while the song was written with Garfunkel in mind as the lead, Simon would come to regret the decision.

He didn't want to sing it himself. He couldn't hear it for himself. He felt I should have done it. And many times I think I'm sorry I didn't do it. Many times on a stage, though, when I'd be sitting off to the side and Larry Knechtel would be playing the piano and Artie would be singing "Bridge," people would stomp and cheer when it was over, and I would think, "That's my song, man. Thank you very much. I wrote that song."

The song’s title has its roots in gospel music. Performing “Mary Don’t You Weep” with the Swan Silvertones in 1958, Claude Jeter sang, “I’ll be a bridge over deep water if you trust in my name.” Jeter, with the Dixie Hummingbirds, sang on 1973’s “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon.”

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” won the 1971 Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. The artists covering the song since read like a pantheon of rock: Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and the Supremes.


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