The breakup album. In a big way this is actually the transformation into the first Paul solo album. Yeah I know Art sings that lead/title song, but he was not even there much of the production time. To me as a songwriter, Bookends has Paul's best craft work composing. Bridge Over Troubled Water represents Paul Simon growing up musically & learning the hard way that he can do it all by himself and would be forced to. While this album has it's outstanding songs, obviously the Boxer and the title song, it's just slightly less consistent with the gems than Bookends. Still a great album and better produced by a mile. It starts out being the two of them, but by the time the album finishes, it's all Paul. Ending with a sad solo, "Song For the Asking", preceded by an oddly placed "Bye Bye Love" Everly Brothers sendup. In retrospect as if they are saying Bye Bye to each other. It ended up being their swan song as a team. The big clue is my other favorite song on this LP, "The Only Living Boy In New York", which is supposed to be about himself stuck in the city unable to do his music with Art away making movies. Baby Driver & the Boxer is all Paul, but Art Garfunkel sneaks in some of the best harmonies of his career on many of these songs.
Regarding this album’s cover, has anyone else noticed that if you cover up Paul Simon’s face with your thumb, it looks as though Art Garfunkel has a tremendous and huge Cossack moustache? For that reason alone this album deserves 5 out of 5 stars.
When considering Simon & Garfunkel’s 1970 Bridge Over Troubled Water, and their swan song, it’s important that you not feel badly for disregarding the title track, a song was so sappily presented that it shouldn’t have been a surprise to me when it turned up in my parents record collection … though perhaps Simon & Garfunkel were attempting to [laughing] ‘bridge’ the generation gap. Though when held back to back with tracks such as “The Only Living Boy In New York,” “The Boxer,” or “Baby Driver,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” comes off as a pale disingenuous musical statement.
By this time Simon & Garfunkel, with their intuitive harmonies, distinguished song crafting, and articulately sculpted productions, had become one of the top acts in the nation. And in all honesty, it’s sad that internal rivalries tore this sublime duo apart just as they were stepping into their own, fully developed, and laying out songs that covered rock, folk, R&B, gospel, and even a bit of the classics. Considering this aspect, I find it difficult to understand Paul Simon’s step off the cliff and into the abyss of world music, where for the most part his numbers were so white that they were instantly suitable for shopping malls and supermarkets … and if Mr. Simon were here now, I would drop the tonearm on “Keep The Customer Satisfied,” and ask him if this song held any element of truth.
There are three aspects at work on this release, the first is their sound, and for the most part, due to the recording and production process, nearly every song has a weightless feel to it. The second is a more internal sense of melancholy and abandonment, where the duo seem to hold these aspects with reverence and devotion, as if in personally examining these songs, they might have been brought face to face, and glean a bit, in regards to what had gone so wrong with these two brothers of verse. While the third revolves around their surprising ability to finally connect with their audience, as if the house lights had been turned on, and they realized that they were not alone on the stage.
The main trouble with breakup albums is that there is no future for fans to look toward, meaning that albums of this nature often fall to the wayside … it even happened with The Beatles. I heard Paul speak on television about this album prior to its release, asking, or stating, ”What’s the point of making this album?” And that moved something within me to ask myself, if Simon’s not a fan, then what should I expect from my investment of time and money. To that end I put off exploring this outing for a very long time. Yes, there were some other issues in my life such as being in Vietnam, though with today’s ears, I’m more than pleased that after all this time I’ve finally given Bridge Over Troubled Water some space on my shelf, and some time on my turntable, allowing myself to get lost in a series of stories that are wholly about New York, in much the same manner as Springsteen or Dion.
All of this has allowed me to consider the times from which this album came into being … it was the end of a decade, an American government that was in serious trouble, a war with no end in sight, the end of the psychedelic age, and the beginning of a decade where people would sedate themselves into a stupor, perhaps intending to sleep through all of the insanity, and perhaps rightly so. But now, so many years removed from the facts, Bridge Over Troubled Water sounds alive, fresh, in the moment, harmonic, tactile, and all that I could ever hope for; though I will for now, forever be skipping the title track.
*** The Fun Facts: On the original picture sleeve for the single “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” only Paul Simon is featured. The song was also not about the Brooklyn Bridge, nor was it as claimed by so many, the Bickleigh Bridge in East Devon, where the two had spent some time years before.
I have "Bridge Over Troubled Water" printed in U.S., KCS9914, XSM150685-1BK/XSM150686-2BE, "DEMONSTRATION NOT FOR SALE" promo stamp on back cover, but NOT "360 SOUND STEREO" label ! I think 1st press must have "360 SOUND STEREO" label... Please let me know what this is ?