A post on the blog TV Worth Watching alerted me to a 40th-anniversary reissue of Simon and Garfunkel’s classic Bridge Over Troubled Water album.
If that doesn’t sound like the right blog for music updates, note that not only is their the the music on the CD but two TV specials on the accompanying DVD.
I remember an English teacher presenting some of the lyrics as poetry in class. I was 13. I bought a cheap acoustic guitar and started learning the songs. I started writing poems.
I couldn’t get close to being able to play “Anji” but I could pick out a “Kathy’s Song” n my bedroom for a Kathy in my life.
I wrote a “script” and wanted to make a film using “Sounds of Silence” as the soundtrack. (This was a long time before music videos and MTV.)
Each of their albums takes me back to a very clear time in my life – much more so than almost any of the hundreds of albums I bought including my beloved Beatles.
I love their music and I like a lot of that album, but I remember buying the album when it came out (January 1970) and having a mixed reaction to it.
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” was a long song (almost five-minutes) to be a hit single, but it was played endlessly on top 40 AM radio for six weeks until it got knocked out by a similarly long and lush Beatles‘ “Let it Be.”
I thought both of those track – classics now – were too lush, too pop, not enough rock or folk respectively. Of course, Paul and Artie are the most successful folk-rock duo of the 1960s. Bridge Over Troubled Water has sold over 25-million copies worldwide and was one of the biggest-selling albums of its decade, topping the charts for ten weeks and containing four hit singles (the title track, “The Boxer,” “Cecilia,” and “El Condor Pasa“).
It was also the fifth and final studio album by Simon and Garfunkel as they were in the process of splitting for a second time – as were The Beatles.
A track I like on it is “The Only Living Boy in New York” which Paul Simon wrote to Art Garfunkel. It alludes to a time when Garfunkel, who was trying out an acting career, went to Mexico to act in the film Catch-22. Simon, the boy alone in NYC, continued to write songs for the album and probably felt like a solo act already. In the song, Artie is “Tom”, a reference to their early days when they were billed as “Tom and Jerry.”
The album version is an echo chamber, multi-tracked, voices overdubbed eight times production, but are lots of other versions online including a demo recording on YouTube.
The album is mix of very simple songs like “A Song For The Asking,” big Roy Halee productions like the title track, and tracks like “Baby Driver” and “Bye Bye Love” that seemed to me to be album filler.
The DVD features “Songs Of America” which was originally broadcast on CBS. The special is comprised of footage of the 1969 tour and hasn’t been commercially available since the 1969 broadcast. TV sponsors refused to endorse the show because of its anti-Vietnam War messages.
There’s also a brand new documentary about the making of Bridge, featuring new 2010 interviews with Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Roy Halee and others on the making of the album. Oddly, the CD doesn’t have some of the outtakes and demos from Columbia’s previous Bridge reissues, so it’s not a total package.
Still, it’s a great collection to me and reasonably priced. It’s one of those albums that is a time capsule for me.
I could easily write another full post about their Bookends album which came out in 1968 and marked a time of turmoil in America and in my own life.
“We’ve all come to look for America…” they sang on the beautiful track “America” where Kathy shows up on a bus on the New Jersey Turnpike that I knew so well.
That “concept album” had one side (I miss album sides) on views of aging, and the flip side was really unused songs intended for The Graduate soundtrack but they were good tracks. Not just because of their music, the 1967 film The Graduate is one of my favorite movies of all time.
It was a time…
1. Bridge over Troubled Water
2. El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
4. Keep the Customer Satisfied
5. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright
6. The Boxer
7. Baby Driver
8. The Only Living Boy in New York
9. Why Don’t You Write Me
10. Bye Bye Love
11. Song for the Asking