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Simon & Garfunkel, “Bridge Over Troubled Water: 40th Anniversary Edition”

| On 24, Feb 2011

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of its original release, Sony Commercial Music Group will be releasing Simon & Garfunkel‘s masterpiece BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER: 40TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION on 11 April 2010.  This deluxe 2CD and DVD set includes the original 11-song album, the UK premier release of their Live 1969 CD, plus the duo’s never-before-commercially-available “Songs Of America” CBStelevision special from 1969 on DVD. The DVD also includes The Harmony Game: The Making of Bridge Over Troubled Water, a newly created documentary about Bridge Over Troubled Water featuring new interviews with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER: 40th ANNIVERSARY EDITION’s full-colour, 24-page booklet will include rare photography, memorabilia, and separate liner note essays that will provide overviews of the album production (written by former A&R executive and current TV music supervisor Michael Hill) and the “Songs Of America” TV special (written by Rolling Stone Contributing Editor Anthony DeCurtis).

“Songs Of America” (running time approximately 60 minutes) is a beautiful visual document that had its first and only broadcast November 30, 1969, on the US CBS television network.  The TV special features footage of Simon & Garfunkel on stage, in the recording studio, and traveling on tour.  Interviews and performances are intertwined with news footage from the period, some of it deemed too controversial by original sponsor Bell Atlantic (a subsidiary ofAT&T), who in the end refused to air it.  Included is footage from the period of Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, activist Cesar Chavez, and the Poor People’s March on Washington.  The film is a fascinating depiction of two artists struggling to define their role within a society that is splintering apart.

Alongside “Songs Of America” on the DVD will bethe newly created documentary, The Harmony Game: The Making of Bridge Over Troubled Water.  This insightful feature tells the story behind Simon and Garfunkel’s last studio album, Bridge Over Troubled Water.  The album has its legacy shrouded in rock n’ roll mythology with legendary tales of inspiration, innovation and separation.  Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel share the journey in their own words and reflect back on its impact 40 years later.  Also featured in the documentary are several of the duo’s collaborators from the period:  Roy Halee (co-producer/engineer), Hal Blaine (drums), Joe Osborn (bass guitar), Jimmie Haskell (arranger), Mort Lewis (manager), and Charles Grodin (director of the “Songs Of America” documentary).  The feature includes never-before-seen footage, photos and memorabilia.

Simon & Garfunkel reportedly spent more than 800 hours over a two-year span recording what would be their final studio album together.  The title single “Bridge Over Troubled Water” won an unprecedented five Grammy Awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Contemporary Song, Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), and Best Engineered Recording; with Bridge Over Troubled Water winning the top award as Album Of the Year.  (In 1998, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was voted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame, one of many awards that the song and album have won around the world over the past four decades.)

But the album also marked the end of the road (at least for a couple of years) for the duo, who had been recording together since their‘Tom & Jerry’ period in high school (circa 1957).  Simon & Garfunkel went out in style, however, as the sessions for BridgeOver Troubled Water spun off four hit singles that spanned 1969 and ’70:

  • “The Boxer” b/w “Baby Driver” (released April 1969, Billboard Hot 100 #7, 10 weeks on the chart);
  • “Bridge Over Troubled Water” b/w “Keep the Customer Satisfied” (released January 1970, Billboard Hot 100 #1 (6 weeks at #1), 14 weeks on the chart, certified RIAA gold);
  • “Cecilia” b/w “The Only Living Boy In New York” (released April 1970, Billboard Hot 100 #4, 13 weeks on the chart, certified RIAA gold); and
  • “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)” b/w “Why Don’t You Write Me” (released September 1970, Billboard Hot 100 #18, 11 weeks on the chart).

The Bridge Over Troubled Water album, released 26th January, 1970, reached #1 in the March 7th issue of Billboard, where it spent 10 weeks at #1, on its way to an 85-week stay on the chart, and 8-times platinum RIAA certification.  Starting March 7th, the album and title track spent five weeks simultaneously at #1, a rare achieve­ment for any artist before or since.

In the UK, the album and title track both debuted on the same date, February 21st, and both subsequently went to #1.  The album went on to spend 41 weeks at #1, ranking it inside the Top 5 all-time Most Weeks At #1; and 307 total weeks on the UK national chart, ranking it inside the Top 10 all-time Most Weeks On the Chart.  At the BRIT Awards in 1977, Bridge Over Troubled Water was named the Best Inter­national Album Of the Past 25 Years.