Artist: Simon & Garfunkel
Genre: Folk, Folk-Rock
Title: Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Musicians: Paul Simon – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion, Art Garfunkel – lead vocals, percussion, Los Incas – Peruvian instruments, Joe Osborn – bass guitar, Larry Knechtel – piano, Hammond organ, electric piano, Fred Carter, Jr. – acoustic & electric guitars, Peter Drake – Dobro, pedal steel guitar, Hal Blaine – drums, percussion, Jimmie Haskell and Ernie Freeman – strings, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Lew Soloff & Alan Rubin – brass, Unknown – Woodwinds, Buddy Harman – percussion, Bob Moore – double bass
Engineer: Roy Halee
Bridge over Troubled Water is the fifth and final studio album by American folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel, released in January 1970 on Columbia Records (Several re-releases followed). Following the duo’s soundtrack for The Graduate, Art Garfunkel took an acting role in the film Catch-22, while Paul Simon worked on the songs, writing all tracks except Felice and Boudleaux Bryant’s “Bye Bye Love” (previously a hit for the Everly Brothers).
From Wikipedia: With the help of producer Roy Halee, the album followed a similar musical pattern as their Bookends, partly abandoning their traditional style in favor of a more creative sound, combining rock, R&B, gospel, jazz, world music, pop and other genres. After filming Catch-22, Garfunkel returned and the duo recorded around 14 tracks, three of which were not featured in the album. The inclusion of a 12th track was long discussed but they eventually decided upon 11 songs. It was described as both their “most effortless record and their most ambitious.”
The album was mixed and released in both stereo and quadraphonic. Columbia Records released a 40th Anniversary Edition on March 8, 2011, which includes two DVDs, including the politically themed TV special Songs of America (1969), the documentary The Harmony Game, additional liner notes and a booklet. Other reissues contain bonus tracks, such as the 2001 version, which covers the demo tapes of “Feuilles-O” and “Bridge over Troubled Water”.
Despite numerous accolades, the duo decided to split up, and parted company later in 1970; Garfunkel continued his film career, while Simon worked intensely with music. Both released solo albums in the following years. Bridge includes two of the duo’s most critically acclaimed and commercially successful songs, “Bridge over Troubled Water” and “The Boxer”. Both critically and commercially successful, the album topped the charts in over ten countries and received two Grammy Awards, plus four more for the title song. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge_over_Troubled_Water
Bridge Over Troubled Water was also the first Simon & Garfunkle LP to credit the backing musicians. In this case as you can see from the credits above, they made use of almost the whole “wrecking crew” with the likes of Fred Carter, Jr.,Hal Blaine, Joe Osborn and Larry Knechtel
As for the sound of this LP, I have an original pressing, which for some reason is not hard to find in at least good condition. Mine happens to be extremely good. The sound was done right on this LP. Not that it is anything special, just done right.
1. “Bridge over Troubled Water” – As Simon and Garfunkel were working busily on recording, they had to decline invitations to perform, including at the Woodstock Festival. Simon wrote “Bridge over Troubled Water”. Simon wanted a gospel piano sound, and so he hired session musician Larry Knechtel. The song was initially two verses long, but Garfunkel felt the song was too short, and asked Knechtel to play a third verse, to which Simon would write more lyrics. Osborn played two bass guitar parts, one high and the other low. Blaine recorded the drums in an echo chamber, to achieve a hall effect. A horn section rounded off the track. Due to a series of factors, the duo had to work on a new tape; an arranger falsely labeled the song as “Like a Pitcher of Water” and wrote Garfunkel’s name incorrectly (GarFunkel), and the string part was unsatisfactory. The vocal style in “Bridge over Troubled Water” was inspired by Phil Spector’s technique in “Old Man River” by The Righteous Brothers. After two months the song was finalized. The song has been covered by over 50 artists since then,including Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was influenced by the gospel music to which Simon was listening at that time, especially the Swan Silvertones and their song “Mary Don’t You Weep”. The name of the title track was inspired by the latter’s line “I’ll be your bridge over deep water, if you trust in my name”. “Bridge over Troubled Water” was addressed to Simon’s wife Peggy, whom he met that year. The “silver girl” in the song refers to her, and her first gray hairs, and not to a drugged hypodermic needle, as was believed by some in the United States. Simon asked Garfunkel to sing lead on the song, and although Garfunkel initially refused this proposal and suggested that Simon should sing falsetto, later agreed to sing. Simon initially composed the song in G major, but arranger and composer Jimmie Haskell transposed the song to E-flat major to suit Garfunkel’s voice.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge_over_Troubled_Water & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge_over_Troubled_Water_(song)
2. “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)” Daniel Alomía Robles, arranged by Jorge Milchberg and English lyrics by Paul Simon- El Cóndor Pasa (pronounced: [el ˈkondoɾ ˈpasa], Spanish for “The Condor Passes”) is an orchestral musical piece from the zarzuela El Cóndor Pasa by the Peruvian composer Daniel Alomía Robles, written in 1913 and based on traditional Andean music, specifically folk music from Peru. Since then, it has been estimated that around the world, more than 4000 versions of the melody have been produced, along with 300 sets of lyrics. In 2004, Peru declared this song as part of the national cultural heritage. This song is now considered the second national anthem of Peru. It is the best-known Peruvian song in the English-speaking world due to a 1970 cover by Simon & Garfunkel on their Bridge over Troubled Water album.
This song is interesting as I feel it has more of a Mediterranean gypsy feel to it than Spanish influence. The live version is better in my opinion.
3. “Cecilia” – Written by Paul Simon, the song’s origins lie in a late-night party, in which the duo and friends began banging on a piano bench. They recorded the sound with a tape recorder, employing reverb and matching the rhythm created by the machine. Simon later wrote the song’s guitar line and lyrics on the subject of an untrustworthy lover. The song’s title refers to St. Cecilia, patron saint of music in the Catholic tradition. The song’s rhythm was developed by Simon, Garfunkel, and Simon’s younger brother, Eddie, when the three began banging on a piano bench during the party. They recorded it for fun utilizing a Sony tape recorder and employing reverberation. In doing so, they were able to synchronize their live rhythm with the reverberating sound on the recording. A friend grabbed a guitar, strumming and punctuating the rhythm with “aahs”. Simon later found himself coming back to the tape and its infectious quality. While listening to the recording, he composed the song’s guitar line. Simon found a section, the length of shortly over a minute, that he felt had a nice groove. He and producer Roy Halee made a loop of this section, which was not an easy task before the advent of digital recording. The duo later recorded additional elements of the song at Columbia Records’ Gower Street location in Hollywood, typically used for string section recording. Simon & Garfunkel dropped drumsticks on the parquet floor, incorporating their sound into the track. In addition, Simon played random notes on a xylophone, as those elements would be compressed in the final version to where it would not be audible whether or not they were correctly played.
4. “Keep the Customer Satisfied” – “Keep the Customer Satisfied” recounts the exhausting tours that Simon grew tired of, a similar theme to that of their earlier song, “Homeward Bound”.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_the_Customer_Satisfied_(song)
This is one of my favorites, but the version in the “Collected Works” release is better I feel.
5. “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” – Art Garfunkel has stated that the origin of the song came from his request that Paul Simon write a song about the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Simon has stated that he wrote the song despite not knowing who Frank Lloyd Wright was. The lyrics of “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” have multiple meanings. On one level, the song praises the famous architect, who died in 1959. However, the lyrics also refer to the upcoming breakup of the Simon and Garfunkel duo. Art Garfunkel had studied to become an architect, so on this level the lyrics can be taken as a farewell from Paul Simon to his friend and partner Garfunkel like another song on Bridge over Troubled Water, “The Only Living Boy in New York.” While Garfunkel sings the song’s fadeout to the words “so long,” producer Roy Halee is heard on the recording calling out “So long already Artie!” Other lyrics of the song refer to the creative process, such as referring to the singer not having learned the tune and to the nights when the singer and Frank Lloyd Wright would “harmonize ’til dawn.” The lyrics also refer to the singer thinking of Wright when looking for inspiration..
This song has kind of a Brazilian ballad flavor to me.
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