This week in history: 9 November 1969, Simon and Garfunkel record Bridge Over Troubled Water

When you’re weary, feeling small/ When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all.” These are the opening words to one of the most covered and recognisable songs in music history.
‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’: the benchmark song of Simon and Garfunkel’s career. It is a song about comfort and about supporting others; about becoming a bridge so that others who are weary can cross. Released in 1970 as part of the duo’s fifth album of the same title, the song went to No.1 in the UK and stayed in the charts for over 300 weeks.

Ironically, this song contributed to the downfall of Simon and Garfunkel’s professional relationship, with Simon saying that he had always regretted not singing the song himself, rather than handing it over to Garfunkel.

Despite their differences, the song is undoubtedly a timeless classic. It is a song that has been passed through the generations, and one that has inspired many to reach out and be that bridge for others.
Rita Ora, Stormzy, and Liam Payne were among many stars who in June of this year contributed to a version of the song for a charity single in aid of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.

As the Students’ Association prepares for Mental Health and Wellbeing Week this message of solidarity is especially poignant. After all, what is the purpose of this sort of campaign if not to lend support to those who need it? ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ has been adopted as the title of many support services for mental health.

One such support centre in New York run by Brittany Bennett states on its website: “please don’t treat your mental health any less than you would with any other condition”. Bennett provides therapy that aims to build trust in others and works with patients to effectively communicate their troubles. Her centre also offers workshops for people who are concerned about relatives and friends of those that are vulnerable. The very fact that the centre has named itself ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ is a testament to the strong power words can have. In Brittany Bennett’s centre, Simon and Garfunkel’s humble hymn has grown into an anthem celebrating the courage of those suffering mental ill health, who find comfort in therapy that teaches them how to move forward without holding themselves back.


Image: Piano Piano! via Flickr

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