Bridge Over Troubled Water

When I was a kid, mi madre had this ginormous wooden stereo cabinet.  It stood pretty tall, and the lid opened from the top to reveal a turntable, receiver, and an 8-track player.  I think that stereo was her prized possession, and I used to love standing over it watching the records spin as she played them.  I also loved to press my fingers up on the lights of the 8-track player until they they shone through my fingernails, but hey, I was young.  Like 4 or 5.  And I remember watching those records spin, and I can see the Beatles’ Apple label in my head and the red Columbia Records label and the split green and red Atlantic Records label spinning on that turntable even as I write this.  Of course there were a few Disney picture discs (I loved the Pinocchio soundtrack, but I couldn’t handle The Fox and the Hound back then) and the Chipmunks and the Muppets Christmas albums to appeal to me (I was a child after all), but I think I have better memories of all the grown-up music mi madre would play.  And one her favorites was Simon and Garfunkel.  I think it may have been the Greatest Hits album, since I remember hearing “The Sound of Silence”, “I Am a Rock”, and “Scarborough Fair/Canticle”, but maybe she had multiple Simon and Garfunkel albums.  The main thing is I also remember being introduced to “The Boxer”, “Cecilia”, and of course the title track from this album at a very young age and loving every minute of every song.

I bought this from Amazon for $4.98, and it instantaneously took me back in time to my childhood (I could have sworn I already owned the “Greatest Hits” album, but maybe it was just the Elusive One’s copy that we listened to back in the day).  Despite the somber tone of many of the songs, this album is fun.  Paul Simon was the primary songwriter, and you can hear the rhythmic playing on tracks like “Cecilia” and “Keep the Customer Satisfied” that would later come to full fruition on the “Graceland” album.  And Art Garfunkel’s voice…well, he elevates the title track to the level of art song with his soaring, melodic tenor voice…it is the stuff of Schubert and Schumann 200 years later.  I also have a recording of a local Andean band, Sumakta, playing the melody to the South American folk song “El Condor Pasa” on wooden pipes…cool stuff.  And of course “The Boxer” is just an amazing tune with the “lai-la-lai” chorus and the big drum explosions.  Timeless.

Other lists: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is #48 and “The Boxer” is #106 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Simon and Garfunkel rank #40 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists as a duo, while individually Paul Simon ranks #93 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists and Art Garfunkel ranks #86 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers.

My favorite track: “The Boxer”

Honorable mention: “Cecilia”

Quote: “I am just a poor boy, though my story’s seldom told. I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles…such are promises: all lies and jest.  Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”