Bridge over Troubled Water

Simon and Garfunkel

album cover

Not the Clichéd Version of the '60s

This album, the last that Simon and Garfunkel recorded, serves as an effective counterbalance to the clichés that have grown up around American culture of the 1960s. The era is forever associated with a rampant flower-powered euphoria; Simon, the song-writer, specializes in pieces that sit idly and contemplate life in America from the window seat of a bus (or a subway bench, with a Peruvian folk band playing "El condor pasa" on the opposite platform).

The era is often portrayed as a time of unity, a moment of almost utopian togetherness, but Simon writes as an outsider, and some of his best songs take the perspective of an alienated, isolated young man. ("The Boxer" follows one such soul as he hustles in Manhattan.) The '60s stand for heedless free love; in Simon's songs, emotional entanglement brings heavy consequences and duties. The title song expresses devotion and empathy in terms more likely to resonate with an adult than some headstrong hippie: "When you're weary, feeling small," goes one verse, "I'll take your part." Simon is a deceptive lyricist—he starts out describing the scenery, and pretty soon he's drawn listeners deep into the thoughts of his complicated, often conflicted characters. Every tune on Bridge conveys a slightly different perspective, and inhabits a different mood: There are moments of withering cynicism ("Keep the Customer Satisfied") and euphoric expressions of teenage romance ("Cecilia"), personal reflections ("The Only Living Boy in New York") and pieces that swell with the aspirations of millions ("The Boxer"). Each song is a marvel of introspection, and also concision—Simon communicates deep tangles of emotion in coded bursts. And each provides listeners with something even more elusive—a quiet respite from the exuberant noise of pop culture in the Age of Aquarius.

Genre: Rock
Released: 1970, Columbia
Key Tracks: "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "The Boxer," "El condor pasa," "Cecilia."
Catalog Choice: Bookends; The Graduate
Next Stop: Elliott Smith: XO
After That: Laura Nyro: Eli and the Thirteenth Confession
Book Page: 703

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#1 from Just Pete, Illinoise! - 04/27/2009 2:20

Twitter #1000Recordings :

“On to #2 Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water (vinyl). Side 1: the hits, side 2 will make you weep. Songs cut deep”

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