Friday, 26 October 2012

Simon & Garfunkel- Bridge Over Troubled Water

A landmark recording in popular music, for me a song that continues to resonate the same way it did when I listened to it as a kid, I found it uplifting as I still do, such a profound declaration of love where the intensity of the lyrics is equally matched by the amazing music. Bridge Over Troubled Water was written by Paul simon as a love song for his wife Peggy, some of the inspiration coming from gospel stars the Swan Silvertones. Simon was inspired by the chorus of their 1958 song Mary Don't You Weep, which featured the line "I'll be your bridge over deep water if you trust in me". The song retains that gospel feeling with Art Garfunkel's angelic vocals which are so pure, they just send shivers up my spine every time I hear him song the song. It has to be regarded as one of the most sublime emotion charged perfomances ever recorded. The early verses are Art and pianist Larry Knetchel, who provides a sympathetic yet intense background. As the song builds gently the strings are introduced and the booming echo of drums comes through,

If you need a friend,
I'm sailing right behind,
Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water

It's a song that is an affirmation of love, it's about being there and offering comfort and guidance to someone when the road gets rough.

Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water,
I will ease your mind.

In this final verse the music reaches an all encompassing pitch, your surrounded and enveloped in this wall of sound that is uplifting. Simon had written the song with Art Garfunkel handling the lead vocals, in the final verse Simon harmonises with but the final stanza is Garfunkel's to occupy. The song features the L.A based Wrecking Crew session players, drummer Hal Blaine, Joe Osborn and Larry Knetchel. It was my initial understanding that Nashville based guitarist Fred Carter played guitar on the track which I think is correct. Carter had started his career with Dale Hawkins in 1957, he also worked with Ronnie Hawkins and Conway Twitty before settling for a session career. Larry Knetchel went on to play with Bread, Joe Osborn had started his career with close friend Johnny Rivers, and most hits recorded in L.A featured the hammer Hal Blaine on drums. The recording of the album had caused some friction between the duo, Garfunkel had spent time filming the Mike Nichols movie Catch 22 which delayed recording sessions.

Something that is lost in popular music today is the ability to marry something insightful and meaningful to music that is lush and dramatic, less is more as a mindset is fine but I love music that has some drama too it not necessarily lyrically but musically it's a tightrope to create something that doesn't step over into syrup.

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