Bridge over Troubled Water (song)

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"Bridge over Troubled Water"
Single by Simon & Garfunkel
from the album Bridge over Troubled Water
B-side "Keep the Customer Satisfied"
Released January 26, 1970
Format 7"
Recorded November 9, 1969
Genre Folk rock, gospel[1]
Length 4:55
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Paul Simon
Producer(s) Roy Halee, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel singles chronology
"The Boxer"
"Bridge over Troubled Water"

Music sample
Bridge over Troubled Water track listing
"Bridge over Troubled Water"
"El Condor Pasa (If I Could)"

"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.[2] The single has sold 6 million copies worldwide.[3]

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. Garfunkel initially did not want to sing lead vocal, feeling it was not right for him. "He felt I should have done it," 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.

Writing and recording[edit]

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."[4]

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.[5] The final verse was written about Simon's then-wife Peggy Harper, who had noticed her first gray hairs ("Sail on, silvergirl").[6][7] 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.[8]

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.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1970)[9] Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles 1
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 1
French Singles Chart 1
New Zealand Singles Chart 1
U.K. Singles Chart 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 1
Australian Singles Chart (Kent) 2
Irish Singles Chart 2
Spanish Singles Chart[10] 2
German Singles Chart 3
Austrian Top 40 4
South African top 20 [11] 4
Dutch Top 40 5
Swiss Singles Chart 5
Norwegian Singles Chart 7
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders) 23


The single won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in the Grammy Awards of 1971, with its album also winning several awards in the same year.


Aretha Franklin[edit]

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,[12] 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.[13]

Elvis Presley[edit]

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."[14] 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[edit]

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 version[edit]

Cantonese lyrics rewriting of the song was Many hearts prevail (zh:滔滔千里心) was collectively sung by many Hong Kong singers for public shows in Hong Kong to raise fund after Eastern China flood of 1991 and in Artistes 88 Fund Raising Campaign.[15]

Other notable covers[edit]











  1. ^ - Bridge Over Troubled Water song review
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  3. ^ Moore-Gilbert, Bart (2002-03-11). The Arts in the 1970s: Cultural Closure. Routledge. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  4. ^ Sisario, Ben. "Claude Jeter, Gospel Singer With Wide Influence, Dies at 94 ", The New York Times, January 10, 2009. Accessed January 11, 2009.
  5. ^ Kingston, Victoria, Simon and Garfunkel: the Definitive Biography, Sidgwick & Jackson, UK, 1996 p.101-02
  6. ^ Dawidoff, Nicholas (May 12, 2011). "Paul Simon's Restless Journey". Rolling Stone (1130): 60–61. 
  7. ^ Dawidoff, Nioclas (25 August 2011). "Paul Simon’s Restless Journey". Features. Rolling Stone India. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Kingston 1996, p.104-05
  9. ^ Steffen Hung. "Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water". Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  10. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  11. ^ Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (S)". Retrieved 2014-05-01. 
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 215. 
  13. ^ "Grammy's Greatest Moments, Volume III: Various Artists". Retrieved 2011-11-23. 
  14. ^ Eliot, Marc (2010). Paul Simon: A Life. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. p. 105. ISBN 9780470900871. 
  15. ^ "Artists raise fund in HK for Taiwan flood victims". 
  16. ^ "Bobby Darin Bridge over Troubled Water". YouTube. 2007-07-09. Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  17. ^ Winter Games close with quite a show,, February 24, 2002
  18. ^ UK Singles, 5 October 1991
  19. ^ Widran, Jordan. "After Dark (Richard Elliot)". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  20. ^ "2nd Capitol Records". Peggy Lee Vinyl Recordings. Peggy Lee Associates, LLC. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  21. ^ The Voice on iTunes (December 9-10, 2013)


  • "Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge over Troubled Water" (notes/reviews), Super Seventies RockSite!/, 2006, webpage: SPSimGarf.
  • "Elvis Presley's performance from August 11, 1970 included in Elvis - That's The Way It Is" webpage: Video on YouTube

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" / "Everybody Is a Star" by Sly & the Family Stone
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Simon and Garfunkel version)
February 28, 1970 (six weeks)
Succeeded by
"Let It Be" by The Beatles
Preceded by
"I'll Never Fall in Love Again" by Dionne Warwick
Billboard Easy Listening Singles number-one single (Simon and Garfunkel version)
February 28, 1970 (six weeks)
Succeeded by
"Let It Be" by The Beatles
Preceded by
"Never Can Say Goodbye" by The Jackson 5
Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles number-one single (Aretha Franklin version)
May 22, 1971 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Want Ads" by Honey Cone
Preceded by
"Want Ads" by Honey Cone
Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles number-one single (Aretha Franklin version)
June 5, 1971 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Want Ads" by Honey Cone
Preceded by
"Wand'rin' Star" by Lee Marvin
UK Singles Chart number-one single
(Simon and Garfunkel version)

March 28, 1970 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"All Kinds of Everything" by Dana
Preceded by
"There there" by Radiohead
Canadian number-one single (Clay Aiken version)
June 28, 2003 (thirteen weeks)
Succeeded by
"Someday" by Nickelback