"Bridge over Troubled water" – Arte documentary about a pop anthem

The record is one of the greatest pop hits ever: With “Bridge over Troubled Water” Simon & Garfunkel made music history. Arte is now showing a documentary on the 50th anniversary of the album.


Whether the theme song, “The Boxer,” “Mrs. Robinson ”orβ€œ El Condor pasa ”- the songs are part of the contemporary music canon. Fifty years after its release, a documentary on Arte this Friday (July 24, 9:45 p.m.) will use archive material to trace the creation of the record, which became the most successful of the American folk-rock duo and also their last joint studio production.

In the meantime, the album has been sold more than 25 million times. On the cover in the soft colors, Art Garfunkel towers over the smaller Paul Simon with his curly head – the record sleeve is also a pop icon today.

The duo, as it becomes clear in the documentary “Simon & Garfunkel: Dream Walker of Pop”, had no intention of having an entire album created from the title song. Initially, only one single was planned. But when the boss of the CBS record company heard the recording, he decided: this will be something big. Decisive for the success was producer Roy Hallee, who made the duo’s sound possible with all sorts of analog tricks.

“Like a volcano” the song broke out of him, reports Simon. During that time he often heard gospel songs from the “Swan Silvertones” and was inspired by them. And it was clear to him from the beginning: “That has to sing Art”. Garfunkel was quickly convinced: “It was a gem”.

However, he reports in front of the camera, he missed a third stanza that was supposed to round off the first two. At first Simon was not convinced and wanted to leave the text as it was. But then he gave in and scribbled the conclusion in five minutes in the studio – “sail on silver girl, sail on by” – a reference to Simon’s first wife Peggy Harper.

The album was also a goodbye. Simon and Garfunkel then went their separate ways, they were barely 30 years old. When Paul Simon heard his song on the radio for the first time a few weeks after the recording, he finally realized: “That was the best thing I had written so far.”

Success for Paul Simon was not entirely without aftertaste. In a 2010 biography, he confessed to being a little jealous when the audience cheered Art Garfunkel after the song. “This is my song, man,” he always thought for himself.

The documentary can also be seen in the Arte media library, where a recording of a concert from New York’s Central Park from 1981 is also freely available.


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