Bridge Over Troubled Water

Simon & Garfunkel

Columbia, 1970

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Like the Police, Simon & Garfunkel released just five albums in their all-too brief time together, and their last ended up becoming their most honored. But while the Police’s Synchronicity can’t exactly be deemed a flat-out masterpiece, Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water more than earns that lofty distinction. Co-produced by Roy Halee, this album is chock-full of surprises. More upbeat than previous efforts, Bridge is also more engaging for the listener. One minute you find yourself being moved to tears with powerful ballads like “The Only Living Boy In New York” and the soul stirring “The Boxer,” and the next you are being lifted up by the pure, unadulterated fun sounds of “Baby Driver” and “Bye, Bye Love.”

The duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel show what really can be done with such otherwise mundane instruments like bongos, flutes, and strings (all of which can be found on “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright”). And just when you think “Keep The Customer Satisfied” can’t possibly get any better, an unbelievable horn section leaps out of the speakers and takes the underrated track to a whole new level. On “El Condor Pasa (If I Could),” we get a brilliant sampling of Peruvian music, with the intro inducing even more goose-bumps than the final note of the elegant and heart-wrenching “Bridge Over Troubled Water” that had come right before it. Speaking of the award-winning title track, it should be noted that it is a particularly difficult song to sing (future American Idol contestants, take note). The recent re-release of this glorious album contains a bare-bones demo version of “Bridge,” as well as a brief bonus track in the form of the foreign language “Feuilles-O.”my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

While the vocals and harmonies of Simon & Garfunkel are as strong as ever throughout Bridge Over Troubled Water (especially on “Keep The Customer Satisfied,” where their voices absolutely soar) the real scene-stealers on this record have got to be the abundant percussion and horns. One listen to “Cecilia” and you’ll be marching and stomping to the heavy rhythms all around your house, while the saxophone on “Why Don’t You Write Me” keeps the song from becoming just another throwaway. The final number “Song For The Asking” could have been a tad longer, but otherwise it is the perfect capper to a memorable collection of tunes.

Honestly, I couldn’t find anything wrong with this 1970 release. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that it has been placed as the #1 Pop Album Of All Time on my list of 100 favorites. Yes, it’s true, it even beat out the likes of Madonna and Michael Jackson for the top spot. The pro-peace/anti-war themes of Bridge Over Troubled Water are just as relevant today as they were back then, which only goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Albums like this one are timeless classics that never, ever, go out of style. Consider it music for your soul.

Rating: A

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© 2008 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia, and is used for informational purposes only.