Week 102: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel

I’m not the type to complain about the state of popular music, or claim that “the music died” a long time ago. However, considering the type of acts that dominate the radio these days, it’s difficult to imagine a band like Simon & Garfunkel topping the charts today the way they did in the latter half of the 1960s.

And yet, they were huge. Political and poetic with tight harmonies and soaring falsettos, Simon & Garfunkel reeled off a string of hit albums that vaulted them to superstardom. Eventually, the pressure of their fame started to eat away at their relationship, and during the recording of this song (and the album of the same name) tension and disagreements were pushing the two apart. By the time this track finished its six-week stay at #1, Simon & Garfunkel had already split.

Knowing that their relationship was under strain and that their partnership was about to end only makes this song more poignant. But despite that knowledge, I can’t help but love this song as an anthem to friendship.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. Garfunkel’s voice. Apparently, he didn’t want to sing it, and thought Paul Simon’s voice was better suited. During a reunion tour in 2003, they split the difference by alternating verses, and singing together on the final verse.

2. The big echoing snare drum that begins to creep into the background just after 3 minutes. It’s the first hint of what’s coming…

3. …the huge ending. Truly epic. Any song that ends by getting louder and slower is likely to make you want to raise your fists in triumph and look to the heavens; the high strings at the end of this one might make you throw tears of joy into the mix.

Recommended listening activity:

Giving someone half your cookie.

Buy it here.