In the 1958 song “Mary Don’t You Weep” Reverend Claude Jeter wrote the lyric “I’ll be your bridge over deep water if you trust in me.” WK Paul Simon used it as the basis for his slightly better known “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” “A narrator (who could be God, a parent, a lover, or a friend) pledges to help someone in adversity, to be ‘like a bridge over troubled water.’” AMG
Simon originally wrote the song on guitar TB and tried to sing it in falsetto, before deciding Art Garfunkel’s voice was better suited to the song. AMG Garfunkel disputed Simon’s contention that it was the best song he’d ever written AMG and thought Simon should sing it. As Simon said in 1972, “Many times I think I’m sorry I didn’t do it.” RS500 “In the earlier days when things were smoother I never would have thought that, but towards the end when things were strained I did. It’s not a very generous thing to think, but I did think that.” BR1
The duo disagreed with Clive Davis, then CBS Records president, over releasing the ballad as the album’s lead single, but Davis won out. AMG The result was the top pop single of the year. AMG
The song became an instant favorite to cover. It was current, but not really a rock and roll song, which gave it broad appeal. The R&B community seized on the song’s gospel feel while the country world latched on to the religious implications of the song. By the close of the year, 24 charted albums had featured the song. Since 1970, it has been recorded by hundreds of artists. AMG
In all its renditions, it has built up more than 7 million airplays, making it one of the top ten most played songs in radio history. The song has also sold more than 6 million worldwide and topped the US and UK charts.
- one of the top 100 songs of the rock era, according to the DMDB
- one of the top 1000 songs of all time
- DMDB song of the year
- one of the world’s best-selling songs
- Billboard Song of the Year
- Grammy Award for Record of the Year
- Grammy Award for Song of the Year
- Grammy Hall of Fame
- Mojo Magazine’s Top 100 Songs of All Time
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll
- Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 100 Songs of All Time
Virgin Radio – Top 100 Songs
- top 100 adult contemporary songs of all time
- one of the top 100 songs of the 1970s
Resources and Related Links:
- the DMDB page for “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
- the DMDB page for Bridge Over Troubled Water
- the DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry for Simon & Garfunkel
- AMG All Music Guide
- BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 270.
- RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
- TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 121.
- WK Wikipedia.org