Song Spotlight: “Bridge Over Troubled Water”

  • Mood: Relaxed, Caring, Supportive
  • Themes: Life Experience, Emotions, Companions and Friends
  • Tempo: Relaxed
  • Genre/Style: Folk

Many songs feature grief and troubled times. Some songs explore how it feels to be alone, sad, and isolated. Other songs feature words of encouragement and themes of supporting others through what they are experiencing.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” is one of those songs. But it has also become an anthem of expressed support. This song has even become the most recorded song of the twentieth century.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” is one of Simon and Garfunkel’s signature songs and features gospel inspiration in its arrangement. Paul Simon composed this song very quickly which, he noted, was unlike his usual approach to writing. It was their biggest hit single as a duo and held the number one chart position for six weeks and topped the charts in multiple countries. Six million copies have been sold worldwide and has been covered by over 50 artists including Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and Johnny Cash, making it one of the most performed songs of the twentieth century.

This song features an endearing pledge of presence and willingness to help assist and comfort during challenging times. The combination of writing from Paul Simon with the solo featuring Art Garfunkel produced an anthem of support and caring, helping it transcend genres and generations.

Here are some of the lyrics:

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all,
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

This is a great song to use in a group and would go well with a collection of songs about life experiences, emotions, or companions and friends. It can be used as a transition into group discussion, an opportunity for musical engagement, movement and more.

Try This:

Theme: This song would fit well into an emotions, life experience, or companions and friends theme. Other complementary songs may include “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”, “Happy”, and “You’ve Got a Friend.”

Discuss: Encourage the group to discuss ways to support others through difficult times. Ask the group ways to ask for support. Share information of whom they can go to if they are experiencing prolonged sadness and emotional turmoil. (Tip: only discuss what you feel comfortable with.)

Create: Create a bridge and water by making a paper river with worries and concerns gathered from the group written in the water. Create a bridge and attach words of encouragement and support. With the groups permission hang the picture or as a group paint the worries away with blue paint, leaving the words of encouragement.

Movement: You can do expressive movement to this song like slow side to side swaying or arm movement. Have your group choreograph a dance or movements to go with the song.

Listen to the variety of covers of this tune from Johnny Cash to Aretha Franklin.

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