Bridge over Troubled Water

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  3. The Life of a Song: ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ | Financial Times

By Bookends in , they were settling into themselves, losing their folk revival pretensions and emphasizing quirky production techniques to match their soaring vocals.

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As this thoughtful reissue attests, the album sounds unique even 40 years later, driven and defined entirely by their own personal musical and political obsessions. The tune is hundreds of years old, but Simon came to it via a contemporary Peruvian group called Los Incas.


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He wrote new English lyrics about the rural versus the urban, and he and Garfunkel sang them over the original instrumental track. Especially coming after the grandiose gospel of the title track, the song sounds both exotic and humble.

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Despite the breadth of sound-- and despite the splintering of their relationship-- Bridge sounds like a unified statement enlivened by styles and rhythms not often heard on pop radio at the juncture of those two decades. The album cuts on Bridge hold up arguably better than the singles-- or maybe it's just that we've all heard the title track and side-two opener "The Boxer" so many times, while songs like "Keep the Customer Satisfied" and "Baby Driver" still sound less familiar, and therefore full of surprises.

Especially on this subtle remastering, Bridge reveals a surfeit of strange, exciting sonic details, as Simon, Garfunkel, and co-producer Roy Halee insert small flourishes of sound, such as the disruptive skiffle beat on "Why Don't You Write Me" or the audience rhythm section on the live version of "Bye Bye Love".

Or so he thought. He felt I should have done it. And I loved the song immediately.

Within a week the duo were in CBS Studios in Hollywood, huddled around a piano with session ace Larry Knechtel, chiselling out the finer points of the arrangement. So I went out to my car, got my chains from my snow tyres, and overdubbed the ending section. I was on my knees in front of the snare, pulling the tyre chains across the head, and slapping them down on two and four.

It created a cool after-beat. With the instrumental track done, Garfunkel spent a week perfecting his vocal.

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The Life of a Song: ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ | Financial Times

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