"Cecilia" is a song written by US musician Paul Simon. It was first recorded by Simon & Garfunkel for their 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. When released as a single, it reached #4 in the US charts. The single did not chart in the UK, despite being released as the follow-up to Simon and Garfunkel's number one hit "Bridge Over Troubled Water", and most copies of the UK single misspelled the title as "Cecelia" on the label.
The songwriter suggests that the "Cecilia" of the title refers to St. Cecilia, patron saint of music in the Catholic tradition, and thus the song might refer to the frustration of fleeting inspiration in songwriting, the vagaries of musical fame or in a wider sense the absurdity of pop culture. The song is generally interpreted as a lament over a capricious lover who causes both anguish and jubilation to the singer. St. Cecilia is mentioned in another Paul Simon song, "The Coast" (from his 1990 album The Rhythm of the Saints): "A family of musicians took shelter for the night in the little harbor church of St. Cecilia."
In 1970, a cover version was released in 1970 by UK group Harmony Grass, which did not chart. French-speaking American musician Joe Dassin sang a French version of this song in 1970, while in February 1971, a version was released in England by the New Wave Band (a group that comprised three members of the band that would soon become 10cc) and Herman's Hermits guitarist Derek Leckenby. It did not chart.
In 1971, a cover version was released by Motown's Smokey Robinson and The Miracles' album One Dozen Roses.
In 1988, a cover version by California-based dance duo Times Two was released, peaking at #79 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1988.
In 1993, the British version of the ABBA tribute performers Björn Again recorded a cover for their album Flashback.
In 1995, a cover version by Suggs (the lead singer of UK pop band Madness) that appeared on his debut solo album The Lone Ranger, became his most successful single, reaching #4 in the UK, and selling more than 500,000 copies.
In 2009, guitarist Jesse Cook did a cover version of the song on his album, The Rumba Foundation. It featured Jeremy Fisher on vocals.
In 1998, Swedish pop band Ace of Base released a Europop track titled "Cecilia" from their album Flowers, which continues the story of the Paul Simon's character. Jenny Berggren, lead vocalist for the band, sings, "This is a song about a well-known girl", then tells of Cecilia's continuous bouncing back and forth between lovers.