43 years ago today, February 23, 1970, Simon and Garfunkel were atop the U.S. singles charts with “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
The single was released on January 26, 1970. 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. Paul Simon has repeatedly expressed regret over his insistence that Art sing his song as a solo, as it focused attention on Garfunkel and relegated Simon to a secondary position. Art Garfunkel initially did not want to sing lead vocal, feeling it was not right for him. “He felt I should have done it,” Paul Simon is quoted as saying. Garfunkel had liked Simon’s falsetto voice in the original demo.
The song originally had two verses and different lyrics. Simon specifically wrote it for Garfunkel and knew it would be a piano song. Garfunkel 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. The final verse was written about Simon’s then-wife Peggy Harper, who had noticed her first gray hairs (“Sail on, silvergirl”)
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. with a published recording date of November 9, 1969.
Simon wrote the song in the summer of 1969 while Art Garfunkel was in Europe filming a movie. Do you know what movie?