"Bridge over Troubled Water" is the title song of Simon & Garfunkel's album of the same name. The single was released on January 26, 1970, though it also appears on the live album Live 1969, released in 2008. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on February 28, 1970, and stayed at the top of the chart for six weeks. "Bridge over Troubled Water" also topped the adult contemporary chart in the U.S. for six weeks. The single has sold 6 million copies worldwide.
This song's recording process exposed many of the underlying tensions that eventually led to the breakup of the duo after the album's completion. Most notably, Paul Simon has repeatedly expressed regret over his insistence that Art Garfunkel sing his song as a solo, as it focused attention on Garfunkel and relegated Simon to a secondary position. Art Garfunkel initially did not want to sing lead vocal, feeling it was not right for him. "He felt I should have done it," Paul Simon revealed to Rolling Stone in 1972.
Garfunkel said that the moment when he performed it at a 1972 Madison Square Garden benefit concert, as part of a one-off reunion with Simon, was "almost biblical."
In performances on the 2003 "Old Friends" tour, Simon and Garfunkel took turns singing alternate verses of the vocal.
It was ranked number 48 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
- 2 Chart performance
- 3 Awards
- 4 Covers
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Simon wrote the song in the summer of 1969 while Garfunkel was in Mexico filming Catch-22.
The song originally had two verses and different lyrics. Simon specifically wrote it for Garfunkel and knew it would be a piano song. The chorus lyrics were partly inspired by Claude Jeter's line "I'll be your bridge over deep water if you trust in me," which Jeter sang with his group, the Swan Silvertones, in the 1958 song "Mary Don't You Weep."
Garfunkel reportedly liked Simon's falsetto on the demo and suggested that Simon sing. He and producer Roy Halee also thought the song needed three verses and a 'bigger' sound towards the end. Simon agreed and penned the final verse, though he felt it was less than fully cohesive with the earlier verses. The final verse was written about Simon's then-wife Peggy Harper, who had noticed her first gray hairs ("Sail on, silvergirl"). The musicians were Wrecking Crew members Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborn and Gary L. Coleman. Knechtel won a Grammy for his piano arrangement.
Garfunkel's first two attempts to record the vocal failed. The first two verses were finally recorded in New York with the final verse recorded first, in Los Angeles. The majority of the song was recorded in Columbia Records in Hollywood, Ca. Part of the song was first heard by a national audience on November 30, 1969, when it was included in the soundtrack of a one-hour TV special by the duo aired by CBS called Songs of America. The music appeared in the background of a clip with John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Larry Knechtel spent four days working on the piano arrangement. Garfunkel came up with the intermediate piano chords between the verses while working with Knechtel.
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Aretha Franklin's gospel-inspired studio-recorded cover version released in March 1971 reached number one on the U.S. R&B chart and number six on the pop chart, and later won the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in the 1972 awards. Her live performance of the song at the Grammy Awards was released on the 1994 album Grammy's Greatest Moments Volume III.
Elvis Presley recorded it in Nashville on June 5, 1970, and it was released on the 1970 album That's the Way It Is (with a false audience fade-out). He included it in his set list for his next engagement in Las Vegas, which included the filming of the 1970 documentary Elvis: That's the Way It Is, and the song was included in the original theatrical release (included version is from the August 11 dinner show). During that summer season in Vegas, Paul Simon attended one of the shows, and, after seeing Elvis perform the song, he was reported to have said, "That's it, we might as well all give up now." Presley continued to use this song throughout his live performances, including his final live appearance in Indianapolis on June 26, 1977. Another live performance was seen in the Golden Globe-winning documentary Elvis on Tour, filmed at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina, on April 14, 1972. Elvis even sang it at one of his Madison Square Garden Shows back in June 1972.
On the studio version, Robert Matthew Watson wrote in his book Heartbreak Hotel: "Presley's outstanding singing is not disguised. This is a fabulous version, burning with sincerity and power, and finding depths not revealed by the composers."
Linda Clifford, Curtis Mayfield's protegee signed on his Curtom label released an up-tempo disco version of "Bridge over Troubled Water" on her album Let Me Be Your Woman in March 1979. This epic version (10:20 in length) was produced by Gil Askey (jazz trumpet player and musical director for many Motown acts) and mixed by Jimmy Simpson, brother of Valerie Simpson from Ashford and Simpson. The song has two originalities, the first one being a 132 bpm tempo (considered the ideal tempo for disco dancing) when the Simon and Garfunkel original is 82 bpm and Aretha Franklin's cover is 76 bpm. It was the first time that this song was covered with a fast tempo. It also has a highly original " Brazilian cuica on a disco beat" break. It became a US disco #11, pop #41, R&B #49 and UK #28.
Cantonese lyrics rewriting of the song was Many hearts prevail (zh:滔滔千里心) was collectively sang by many Hong Kong singers for public shows in Hong Kong to raise fund after Eastern China flood of 1991 and inArtistes 88 Fund Raising Campaign.
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- Merry Clayton (on her album Gimme Shelter)
- Elvis Presley (on his live Las Vegas Shows)
- The Jackson 5 (on their Third Album)
- Nana Mouskouri
- Swedish singer Tommy Körberg recorded a translation by Åke Arenhill to Swedish entitled "Som en bro över mörka vatten" (Like a bridge over dark water). It was later also recorded by Nanne Grönvall for her 2007 album "Jag måste kyssa dig".
- The Supremes
- Andy Williams (on his album, Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head)
- B.J. Thomas (on his album Everybody's Out of Town)
- Shirley Bassey (on her album Something Else)
- Roberta Flack (on her album Quiet Fire)
- Buck Owens and the Buckaroos covered the song for the country music market. A departure from Owens' usual Bakersfield Sound, his version reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in March 1971.
- Neil Sedaka combined it with the Irish folk tune "Londonderry Air" in his album On Stage in Australia.
- Willie Nelson covered the song on his 1982 album, Always on My Mind. He also performed the song during the closing ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, BeBe Winans and CeCe Winans performed the song at the Family Night Special in 1991.
- CeCe Winans and Whitney Houston also performed the song on the VH1 Honors in 1995.
- Natalie Cole and Whitney Houston performed the song in 1990.
- In 1987, the song was covered on Saturday Night Live by the Sweeney Sisters (Jan Hooks and Nora Dunn). They sang the song to Simon, who was the episode's host.
- In 1991 P.J.B. feat. Hannah And Her Sisters, a US group assembled by Pete Bellotte and fronted by British singer Hannah Jones released a dance cover which got to No. 21. in the UK Singles Charts.
- In 1991, Russian singer Alexander Gradsky covered the song on the album Metamorphoses.
- A Cantonese version of this song was done in Hong Kong in 1991 as a fundraiser for the Eastern China flood of 1991.
- In 1994, saxophonist Richard Elliot covered the song from album After Dark. In 2001, the song was chosen for ballad compilation album, Ballads.
- In 1995, Bonnie Tyler covered the song on the album Free Spirit.
- In 1996, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora covered the song during a concert for charity.
- In 1997, LeAnn Rimes covered the song on the album You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs.
- In 1999, Anne Murray covered the song on the album What a Wonderful World.
- In 2001, Russell Watson covered the song on the album The Voice.
- In 2002, Johnny Cash covered the song on the album American IV: The Man Comes Around.
- In 2004, Michael W. Smith covered the song on the album Healing Rain.
- In 2006, Bebi Dol covered the song on the live album Veče u pozorištu.
- In 2008, Kate Ceberano recorded a version for her album So Much Beauty.
- David Foster, Andrea Bocelli, and Mary J. Blige performed the song on January 31, 2010, during the 52nd Grammy Awards ceremony, in the context of raising awareness for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. This version reached #75 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Annie Lennox performed a cover on April 25, 2007 live on Idol Gives Back.
- The song was covered on October 5, 2010, for the television show Glee's episode which centered on spirituality. The cover was performed by Amber Riley as her character, Mercedes Jones.
- This song was performed by Celtic Woman, accompanied by the Gwinnett Young Singers in September 2011, as part of their "Believe" concert.
- In 2011, Singapore singer Kit Chan covered this song in her comeback album (Re-interpreting '重譯').
- The song has also been performed by Robert Goulet, Perry Como, Anita Baker, Michael W. Smith, Clay Aiken, Ronnie Dyson, Roy Orbison, Morten Harket, Josh Groban, Glen Campbell, Brian McKnight, Aretha Franklin, Eva Cassidy, Stevie Wonder, Peggy Lee, Bon Jovi, Rhydian Roberts, Black Label Society, Casiopea, Charlotte Church, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Elton John, Guilherme Arantes, Jacob Lusk, Chris Mann, Kerliand Leona Lewis
- In 2012, David Archuleta covered the song on his fifth studio album Begin.
- Jackie Evancho performed this song March 22, 2013, during the Cirque Du Soleil performance on World Water Day in Las Vegas, NV.
- In 2013, Dami Im recorded a version for her album Dami Im. The album was #1 in Australia.
- On December 9, 2013, Tessanne Chin covered the song on Season 5 of NBC's singing competition, The Voice for the Semifinal round. The song went to the #1 spot on iTunes within 12 hours, with her becoming the first (and ultimately only) contestant to achieve the top chart position at the end of an applicable voting window that season.
- Sting performed this song with Paul Simon on their "Paul Simon & Sting On Stage Together" tour in 2014.