RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #141: Scarborough Fair/Canticle by Simon and Garfunkel.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, 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, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #141: Scarborough Fair/Canticle by Simon and Garfunkel.

“Scarborough Fair” is a song whose origins have been traced back all the way to the late 1600s!!! It is a ballad that was based, originally, on the story “The Elfin Knight” which is a tale that sees an elf set a series of impossible tasks before a fair maiden. If she cannot accomplish these tasks, the elf will abduct her and make her his wife. She responds with counter tasks for the elf, as she battles for her continued freedom. It is this, back and forth battle of wits betwen the elf and the maiden from “The Elfin Knight” tale from hundreeds of years ago, upon which Simon and Garfunkel based the structure of their version of “Scarborough Fair”.

The story of “The Elfin Knight” was set in the very real town of, Scarborough, in North Yorkshire in England. Even to this day, Scarborough, UK, is home to popular Renaissance Fairs that re-enact many battles and plays from History. It was because of Fairs such as the one in Scarborough proper that this song became popular in our modern times, too. As you can appreciate, the lyrics has changed over time but, for the most part, the lyrics used in the Simon and Garfunkel version came into existence just after WWII. A song similar to the modern version was sung by a man named Mark Anderson to his friend, Ewan McColl. McColl and a lady named Peggy Seeger, wrote the lyrics and melody in a book called, “The Singing Island”. From this book, a decade and a half later, a man named Martin Carthy sang the song on his debut album and, in doing so, claimed a copyright, of sorts. This is an important element in the evolution of this song because, when Simon and Garfunkel took the song for their use, they gave no credit to Carthy nor paid him any royalties. Naturally, Carthy sued. Paul Simon’s counter-claim was based on the fact that he altered the lyrics, based upon an anti-war song of his called, “The Side of the Hill”. This, in addition to Art Garfunkel, tweaking the melody, gave rise to the “Canticle” part of their song title and was thought by both men to be sufficient to make it a distinct recording from the one originally sung by Carthy, who was faithful to the original version by Anderson, McColl and Seeger back in the 1940s. Eventually, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel settled out of court and paid Carthy an undisclosed but “substantial” amount of money, according to Paul Simon. The hatchet was formally buried when Carthy and Simon performed the song together on stage…..thirty years after the first lawsuits were filed!

As always, few can harmonize as well as Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel could in their day. Thus, a song like “Scarborough Fair” seems perfectly suited for them. When my girls hear them sing this song, they roll their eyes and give me the, “this is such an old song” line but, little do they realize just how old this song actually is.

So, without further delay, here are Simon and Garfunkel, with a song that is over four hundred years old, making it, unquestionably, the oldest song in this entire countdown. Here is “Scarborough Fair/Canticle”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” by Simon and Garfunkel, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Simon and Garfunkel, Canberra found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #33: The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, 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, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #33: The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel.

“The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel is one of the most well-known songs of all-time. It is difficult to find someone who, upon learning the opening line…..”Hello Darkness, my old friend”….doesn’t know exactly what song is being sung. The opening to “The Sound of Silence” is almost universally known, at least in the English-speaking world. And yet, many misinterpret what Paul Simon meant when he wrote those words as a twenty-one year old man, way back in the early 1960s. So, settle in for a story about a song that is loved and reviled in equal measure, a song that was included in one of the most iconic movies of all-time, one that was covered recently in one of the most successful cover attempts of all-time and finally, which, as I mentioned, a song which is often misinterpreted by those who sing its words aloud to the Heavens. Here is the story of “The Sound of Silence”.

As a teenager, I was very lucky because we had an excellent stereo system in our house. After my father passed away when I was eleven, I became “the man of the house” and, in order to allow my mother (who was a nurse) to be able to continue working, I became responsible for watching over my sister (who was six years younger than me). Sometimes, that meant that my mother would go to work for the overnight shift and my sister and I would be left at home. As dodgy as that sounds, nothing bad ever happened. In fact, a lifelong habit of mine was borne out of those moments and that was, listening to music in the dark after everyone else in the house had gone to bed. Back then, I loved nothing more that to feel the house fall quiet, to turn out the lights, don my headphones and listen to my favourite songs. To me, it was the most peaceful of times; it allowed me to listen to the stories being told to me in song and to use those images to create my own versions of those stories in my mind. I developed my love of writing and music and storytelling from those moments spent listening to tunes at night in the dark.

I was not alone in enjoying the solitude of darkness. So did Paul Simon. When he was a late teen, about to enter his twenties, he struggled to find an outlet for his burgeoning creativity. He wanted to write and to think his thoughts in an isolated manner, undisturbed by the outside world. So, how did he accomplish this, you ask? Well, according to the man, himself, Paul Simon used to go into the bathroom of his house, turn off the lights, sit on the floor and play his acoustic guitar in the dark. In this environment, free from external distractions, he was able to focus on his poetry, his storytelling and, in the end, create the masterpieces that came to define the early song catalogue of Simon and Garfunkel. So, if you listen to “The Sounds of Silence” in light of this new information, you can easily see that it isn’t about Depression or dark, violent impulses that lay inside all of us or society, at large but, instead, it is about creativity and how Paul Simon’s creative mind needed to work in order for him to express himself to his fullest extent. So, when he sings, “Hello Darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk to you again“, he is talking about creating the conditions that were necessary for him to emote properly.

“The Sound of Silence” was one of the very first songs the duo, Simon and Garfunkel, recorded and released. Unfortunately, at that time in their career, they were entirely a Folk act and, as such, the first version of “The Sound of Silence” was completely acoustic. That initial recording did not connect with an audience and ended up being a dud. That seems hard to believe but, the song just seemed bland and wordy and people were not into the message that Paul Simon was trying to put out through this song. So, Simon and Garfunkel, prepared to disband and go on with their lives as university students. The lucky break for them and, for us, came via a music producer named Tom Wilson. As it turns out, Tom Wilson was one of the most pivotal figures “behind-the-scenes” during the 1960s. His initial claim to fame was in helping to convince Bob Dylan to go “electric”. As you may recall, the whole “Dylan-Goes-Electric” controversy was one of the early paradigm shifts that happened as the 1960s unfolded. Bob Dylan was a major star as a Folk singer so, his decision to move away from pure, acoustic Folk music and transition into to more electric rock, horrified many of his fans. But, as Wilson knew, the future of music was in going electric and, eventually, in going digital and becoming computerized. So, when Tom Wilson helped to convince Bb Dylan to “go electric”, it was a seismic shift in the musical landscape. Fast forward few years and there was Tom Wilson again at the right moment in time. He came into possession of the master tapes from Simon and Garfunkel’s initial recording session for “The Sound of Silence”. By then, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel had moved on and abandoned the song. So, unbeknownst to the duo, Wilson began to play around with it in his own studio; adding overdubs and various orchestral flourishes and then, when he was finished (with the version we have all come to know and love), he played it for Simon and Garfunkel, as well as for some record executives. The improvement in the song was obvious. This new version was re-released and the song became a modest hit. This new development caused Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel to give their career another shot and, as we all know, that renewed opportunity and commitment resulted in a Hall of Fame career that ranks as being one of the best and most-important of all-time.

What further helped solidify the success of this song was when Hollywood Director, Mike Nichol approached the duo for the rights to use this song, along with three others *(One of which was “Mrs. Robinson, which you can read about here), in his new movie called, “The Graduate”. According to Nichol, the “sound” of the music that Simon and Garfunkel were creating fit his movie to a tee and, more than that, had captured the mood of an entire generation and nation. Thus, “The Sound of Silence” took on an anthemic quality that raised it up as a statement of belief on how life should be lived in America at the time. This is where some of the pushback against this song started.

To hear Paul Simon tell the take, “The Sound of Silence” was never meant as a commentary about War or Capitalism or racial harmony and social justice….instead, it was simply an ode to the creative process by which he, and perhaps others, could more fully express their inner emotions. Remember that when he wrote this song, Paul Simon was just turning 21 years of age. He was still a young man who had very little in the way of worldly experience. But yet, here was his song, a few years later, being held up as a mantra for how to live a successful life. Needless to say, there were many critics who took umbrage with the notion that some wet-behind-the-ears college boy felt the need to be lecturing anyone on how they should be living their lives. That Paul Simon didn’t intend that to be the case at all seemed to get lost in the blowback.

Fortunately, most people took the song for the poetry that it is. One of those who recently stood up in defence of “The Sound of Silence” was completely surprising; it was a heavy metal band called Disturbed. A few short years ago, Disturbed recorded their own interpretation of “The Sound of Silence”. It became very popular in the early days of the pandemic when we were all reduced to interacting with the world from the relative safety of our homes and our internet connections. Disturbed’s cover version of “The Sound of Silence”, with its nod to solitude in a time of isolation for many, raced to the top of the charts. Paul Simon dropped the band a congratulatory note, stating that he felt they had done a great job and had captured the essence of his song well. In reply, the band said that Paul Simon’s deal of approval was worth more than any Gold record that came their way as a result of recording their cover.

Like many songs that are coming up toward the end of this countdown, “The Sound of Silence” is a song that has come to define that period of time when it was released. From the very first notes, the song takes the listener on a journey within their own mind…..not to that place where dark impulses lay but, instead, to that part of all of us where our mind is clear and our thoughts can form fully and completely. Even to this day, I enjoy being the last one to bed…..alone in my home, in the darkness, with good music flowing into my ears and inspiration brewing as a consequence.

So, without further delay, here are Simon and Garfunkel, with their very first hit, “The Sound of Silence”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Simon and Garfunkel, can be found here.

The link to the video for the song, “The Sound of Silence” as covered by Disturbed, can be found here. ***This video is the most watched video in the history of The Conan O’ Brien Show.

The link to the official website for Disturbed, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #62: Mrs. Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel, from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the film, The Graduate.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, 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, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #64: Mrs. Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel, from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the film, The Graduate.

If you are “working on commission”, it usually means that someone has approached you, as a creative type, and has formally requested the creation of an original work, with compensation being provided upon completion, to the satisfaction of the buyer. In the Art world, “commission work” is a fairly standard affair and is quite often how many artists make ends meet. We have already seen many instances where, in the music industry, there were songwriters whose main job was to write for singers whose job it was to strictly sing the songs that were written for them. Motown worked that way. The Brill Building in New York worked that way. When Garth Brooks first went to Nashville, he was a songwriter to hire, too. But, when we talk about the song, “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel, we are speaking of a different sort of situation where Art was commissioned. In this case, we are talking about someone approaching an established singing act and asking them to sing something new just for the buyer. This is the story of how that happened and why, among many other things, “Mrs. Robinson” did not win the Academy Award for Best Song the year it was released.

In the mid-to-late 1960s, Simon and Garfunkel had established themselves as one of the “voices” of their generation. The poetry of their lyrics captured the mood of optimism and hope that was spreading across the land. The harmony of their paired voices was invoking a longing for a more innocent and carefree time. One of the people whose heart was touched by their songs was Hollywood director, Mike Nichol. Nichol was a big fan of Simon and Garfunkel, often listening to their music in between takes on the movie sets he found himself working on. He found their music soothing and inspiring. So, it came as no surprise that when he was putting together plans for a new movie called, “The Graduate”, to star Anne Bancroft and a young, Dustin Hoffman, that Nichol started making formal inquiries as to whether he could license some of Simon and Garfunkel’s work for his new movie. He had, “The Sounds of Silence”, along with “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” already in mind. But, he, also, requested that the pair come up with a new, original song for the soundtrack, too. In order to help them draw their own creative inspiration, Nichol provided Simon and Garfunkel with a portion of the script.

So, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel read the draft of the script for “The Graduate” and thought that Nichol’s take on a loss of innocence was timely because they, themselves, had felt the mood in America shifting beneath their feet….away from the heady, “Summer of Love”, Peace and Love, hippie vibe and moving toward something else….something more ominous and less innocent for their nation. So, Simon and Garfunkel agreed to write three new songs in exchange for a flat fee. Nichols agreed and paid up. In a few weeks, Simon and Garfunkel met with Nichols and played their three songs for him. The first two were dismissed outright by Nichols. Then, they played Song #3 which turned out to be “Mrs. Robinson”. The story really was that Paul Simon thought the first two songs were pretty good and was a little discouraged by their quick rejection. When he started to introduce the final song, he actually downplayed it a bit by saying that it really wasn’t totally complete and that any section that was still in “rough draft” form would have lyrics that went, “Dat, da da da, dat, da da da, dat, da da da, do”. For Simon, he said that the song, which was called, “Mrs. Roosevelt” at that moment in time, was more focused on the syllable count matching the beat of the song. So, he played his unfinished work. Nichol was thrilled with it; especially, the “Dat, da da da”-part. Because he knew enough to understand the syllable count mechanism that Simon and Garfunkel were using, he suggested that the title be changed from honouring Eleanor Roosevelt and, instead, become the famous, “Mrs. Robinson” that we know the song by today. *(“Mrs. Robinson” was the key female character in his film, played by Bancroft). Simon and Garfunkel agreed to the change. The song was polished and sold to Mike Nichols for inclusion in the soundtrack of “The Graduate” and the rest, as they say, is history.

However, a funny thing happened on the way to the Academy Awards. In retrospect, a classic song such as “Mrs. Robinson” that touched on losing innocence as a person and as a nation, would seem like it should have been a shoo-in for the Best Song Oscar. However, such is the busy nature of sales transaction and big budget film-making that no one thought to submit the song for consideration by the deadline for applications. Mike Nichols was too busy making his groundbreaking movie. Simon and Garfunkel were too busy working on their next album, “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” (which would be their final studio album together). So, Academy voters never had the chance to recognize “Mrs. Robinson”. Instead, “If I Could Talk to the Animals” from the movie, “Dr. Doolittle” took home the prize that year.

Paul Simon was known for touching on real people, places and things in his songwriting. “Mrs. Robinson” was no exception. One of the most famous lines in the entire song…..a line that touched everyone and added such depth and poignancy to the song….was when he wrote:

“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

A nation turns its’ lonely eyes to you.”

For those unaware, Joe DiMaggio was a famous baseball player who played his entire Hall of Fame career with Paul Simon’s favourite team, the New York Yankees. In a world of superstars with big egos and questionable character, Joe DiMaggio was a gentleman. He was briefly married to Marilyn Monroe. When he retired, he became the face of an ad campaign for a product called, “Mr. Coffee”. At one point in the 1970s, Paul Simon ran into Joe DiMaggio at an event. Joe asked Paul Simon why he had written him into “Mrs. Robinson” in such a way that seems to indicate that he, Jolting’ Joe, had let America down. Paul Simon was aghast that DiMaggio would have taken that point of view because it was, in fact, the exact opposite to what Simon had been trying to say. So, he explained to the Hall-of-Fame legend that he was actually lamenting the loss of class that DiMaggio had brought to the public stage and that he felt America was missing his example now that he was retired. Paul Simon went to great lengths to reassure Mr. DiMaggio that he actually considered him to be a hero. Being the gentleman that he was, Joe DiMaggio shook Paul Simon’s hand and the two embraced.

“Mrs. Robinson” is a landmark song from a landmark movie. It has become woven into the fabric of the times as they existed for so many in the 1960s. In fact, for many people, “Mrs. Robinson” is one of the songs that best exemplifies what the 1960s were all about. For all of us, as fans, we should be forever grateful that another fan, Director Mike Nichol, thought enough of their music that he sought them out to create this very song that touched so many lives. We should, also, be grateful that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel thought enough of Mike Nichols vision for his new movie that they agreed to “marry their fortunes together”, as it were, and create this masterpiece that has as lyrics, nonsense words such as “Dat, da da da” that, somehow, reads like poetry.

So, without further delay, here is “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel, from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the film, “The Graduate”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel, can be found here.

The link to the video for the trailer for the movie, “The Graduate” can be found here.

The link to the official website for Simon and Garfunkel, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #73: The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, 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, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #73: The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel.

Some songs just have the loveliest writing.

“The Boxer” was written by Paul Simon for inclusion in Simon and Garfunkel’s fifth album, “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”. It strikes me as possible that it took Paul Simon five albums worth of writing to feel confident enough to put pen to paper and dare to tell his life story in song. For that is what “The Boxer” is all about. It is Paul Simon’s autobiography, up until that point in his life. It is, also, a love song to New York City, where he was from. In less talented hands, the opening verse, which describes how he got into the music business, could have been leaden but, from Simon’s mind came the following poetry:

“I am just a poor boy

though my story’s seldom told

I have squandered my resistance

for a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises.

All lies and jest

Still, a man hears what he wants to hear

and disregards the rest, mhmm.”

“The Boxer” was the follow-up single to the hugely successful, “Mrs. Robinson” and, as such, Simon and Garfunkel knew that they needed to craft a song that measured up to the high standards they were now regularly attaining. So, the story is that “The Boxer” took over 100 hours of studio time to record. Part of the reason for that was the perfectionist nature of Paul Simon. But, not unlike other contemporaries at the time, like The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel began to broaden their interpretation of what was possible when it came to recording sounds. As a result, one example of their expanded attention to detail can be seen in the fact that they used seven(!) different microphones to record session player, Fred Carter Jr, when he recorded his guitar part. One of the seven mics was used to record the rhythm of Carter’s breathing which, according to Paul Simon, had such a strong, rhythmic quality to it that they keep it and added it to the recording!

Another example of innovative use of recording sounds can be seen in how they got the one loud bass drum sound that you hear at the end of the “lie-la-lie” segments of the chorus. In order to make the drum sound loud, like cannon fire, they took the drummer down to the front lobby of an office building after hours, when it was relatively empty. Then, they placed him different locations to measure the decibel levels as the sound waves bounced off of the marble flooring, the smooth walls, etc. Finally, they found a sweet spot in front of a bank of elevators. So, as you listen to “The Boxer” today, try to visualize that lone drum beat being made in an office building, in front of elevator doors. In any case, it is easy to see how meticulous Simon and Garfunkel were when it came to recording “The Boxer” and why it took 100 hours to get it the way they liked.

Once recorded and released, “The Boxer” was a big hit with fans and quickly climbed the charts, making it a worthy successor to “Mrs. Robinson” for Simon and Garfunkel. But, far from just being a hit for them at the time of its’ release, “The Boxer” has figured prominently in all live concerts since and can easily be found on any Greatest Hits album. But, even more importantly than that, “The Boxer” has carved out a place for itself in History by being the first song sung on live tv from NYC after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. This moment occurred two weeks after the Towers fell. Paul Simon was asked to sing the song during the cold open for Saturday Night Live which was, that night, becoming the first live tv show broadcast since the tragedy happened. It was felt by President Bush and by then, NYC Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, that it was important to show the world that New York was still alive and kicking and that the city had conquered the fear and sadness of the attacks and were rising above it. Giuliani appeared with a contingent of fire fighters who had been working at Ground Zero trying to rescue lost and missing colleagues. After a few short words from the Mayor, Paul Simon opened with his song of perseverance and determination, as he sang, “I am just a poor boy, though my story’s seldom told…..” and, with those words, the city (and the country) began to heal.

Music is a powerful elixir.

I will include a live performance of “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel, along with a video that recaps the use of the song on Saturday Night Live after 9-11. All in all, “The Boxer” is one of my own personal, favourite songs of all-time. I adore the language Paul Simon used to describe his own journey through life and how so much of it was shaped by the city he loved, New York. For my money, it is some of the very best songwriting ever. I hope that you agree and that you enjoy listening to his story as it unfolds in the videos below. So, without further delay, here is “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “The Boxer” as sung live by Simon and Garfunkel, can be found here.

The link to the official video for the song, “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel, can be found here. *Listen for the big drum beat that was recorded in the office tower lobby.

The link to the video about how Paul Simon came to sing, “The Boxer” on Saturday Night Live right after 9-11, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Simon and Garfunkel, can be found here.

Thanks, as always, to KEXP. for supporting the best music of all-time. The link to their wonderful website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: KEXP- Song #431…Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garfunkel.

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KEXP: 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.