Saturday, February 28, 1970

Simon & Garfunkel hit #1 with “Bridge Over Troubled Water”

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Simon & Garfunkel

Writer(s): Paul Simon (see lyrics here)

Released: January 26, 1970

First Charted: January 31, 1970

Peak: 16 US, 14 CB, 13 HR, 16 AC, 1 CL, 13 UK, 14 CN, 2 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 7.0 radio, 97.4 video, 151.25 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

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 It became “one of the great statements about modern relationships” TC including Simon’s “relationship with his wife, with his audieince and with music.” TC

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.” FB

The duo disagreed with Clive Davis, then CBS Records president, over releasing the ballad as the album’s lead single. Simon said, “I didn’t think it was a hit, because I didn’t thnk they’d play a five-minute song on the radio.” TC In the end, Davis won out AMG and 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.


  • AMG All Music Guide
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 270.
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Pages 288-9.
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 27.
  • 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

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First posted 2/26/2012; last updated 8/16/2022.

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