This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #431: Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garfunkal.
Simon and Garfunkal were a duo who formed in the late 1960s and performed into the early 70s. They were noted for the storytelling nature of their songs, as well as, the beautiful harmonies provided by their voices while singing. Many of their songs have come to define the history of that period of time in America. Their hits included classic songs like, “America”, “Scarborough Fair”, “Mrs. Robinson”, “The Boxer”, “The Sound of Silence” and, of course, “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkal were inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. They have sold over 100 million albums and have won 10 Grammy Awards. Simon and Garfunkal are universally considered to have been one of the greatest duos of all time.
“Bridge Over Troubled Waters” draws its influence from Gospel origins. The idea for the song came from a line sung by Gospel singer, Claude Jeter from the group, Swan Silvertones, who had a song containing the line, “I’ll be your bridge over deep water if you trust in my name”. Using that line as inspiration, Simon wrote the lyrics quickly. In fact, Simon would later end up paying Jeter a flat royalty for “stealing” the idea for the song. *(In the Comments section, I will post a video of an extraordinary interview Simon did with TV Talk Show host Dick Cavett. The interview is amazing to watch because of Simon’s extreme nervousness, his candor about his relationship with his partner, Art Garfunkal, his admission to stealing the idea for “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” from Jeter and, finally, he spends a couple of minutes giving Cavett and his viewers a glimpse into the genius of his creative process by describing how the song was crafted and assembled. It is an absolutely amazing interview and a must-see for anyone who is truly interested in this song.)
Paul Simon wrote almost all of the songs that he performed with Art Garfunkal. He often sang lead, too. “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” is one of the few songs where Art Garfunkal takes on the lead singer role. Eventually, the duo broke up as a performing entity, in large part, because of the creative imbalance at play in most of their songs. Art Garfunkal began acting in movies and Paul Simon went on to enjoy a long and storied solo career. But, they have left all of us a rich musical legacy of some of the most beautiful and memorable songs of an entire generation. Rarely have lovely lyrics and voices come together so well. Here is “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” by Simon and Garfunkal. Enjoy.
The link for the music video for Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garfunkel can be found here.
The link to the Paul Simon/Dick Caveat interview can be found here.
The link to the music video for Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Aretha Franklin can be found here.
Simon and Garfunkel have a website dedicated to preserving memories of their career. The link to their website can be found here.
Thanks for KEXP for helping to inspire the writing of this post. A link to their wonderful website can be found here.