How 1 Beatles Song Is Connected to Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’
All roads lead to Rome — and all classic rock roads lead to The Beatles. Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” has a major connection to a song from The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. One of the songs blew the other out of the water commercially, no pun intended.
Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ connects to The Beatles’ ‘Blue Jay Way’
During a 1972 interview with Rolling Stone, Simon discussed the origin of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” “Me and Artie [Garfunkel] and [Simon’s wife] Peggy [Harper] were living in this house with a bunch of other people throughout the summer,” he said. “It was a house on Blue Jay Way, the one George Harrison wrote ‘Blue Jay Way’ about.” The two tracks are a study in contrast, as “Blue Jay Way” is a sleepy psychedelic tune, while “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is a forceful power ballad.
“We had this Sony machine and Artie had the piano, and I’d finished working on a song, and we went into the studio,” Simon added. “I had it written on guitar, so we had to transpose the song. I had it written in the key of G, and I think Artie sang it in E. E flat.”
Paul Simon discussed how gospel music influenced Simon & Garfunkel’s track
Simon discussed collaborating with a famous session musician on “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” “We were with Larry Knechtel and I said, ‘Here’s a song, it’s in G, but I want it in E flat. I want it to have a gospel piano,'” he said. “So, first we had to transpose the chords and there was an arranger who used to do some work with me, Jimmie Haskell, who, as a favor, he said, ‘I’ll write the chords, you call off the chord in G and I’ll write it in E flat.'”
Knechtel did what he was told. He made no other contribution to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Since Knechtel was credited as one of the arrangers of the song, he earned a Grammy Award for changing a key.
How ‘Blue Jay Way’ and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ performed
“Blue Jay Way” was never a single, so it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The tune appeared on the album Magical Mystery Tour. That record topped the Billboard 200 for eight weeks, staying on the chart for 93 weeks altogether.
In contrast, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was a massive smash on the Billboard Hot 100. The gospel ballad was No. 1 in the United States for six weeks, making it Simon & Garfunkel’s longest-lasting chart-topper in the United States. It remained on the chart for 14 weeks in total, tying it with “My Little Town” and “The Sound of Silence” as Simon & Garfunkel’s longest-charting single. The album Bridge Over Troubled Water topped the Billboard 200 for 10 of its 87 weeks on the chart. Sadly, the duo never made another studio album after Bridge Over Troubled Water.
“Blue Jay Way” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” are as far apart as they could be musically but they have overlapping histories.