How “Bridge over Troubled Water” nearly became a Pitcher of water.

Who doesn’t know this classic song by Simon and Garfunkel? It is loved by music fans of all genres, basically because it is a great song.

In an interview Paul Simon said that “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was influenced by the gospel music to which he was listening toat that time, especially the Swan Silvertones and their song “Mary Don’t You Weep” He had composed it on his guitar.

It became one of the duo’s biggest hits and their signature song, topping the U.S. and U.K. charts and picking up five Grammy awards in 1971, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Although Paul Simon wrote it, he wanted Art Garfunkel to sing it.

But it could have gone so wrong. The arranger Ernie Freeman had paid so little attention to the lyrics that the sheet music was titled Like a Pitcher of Water. He also wrote Garfunkel’s name incorrectly ‘GarFunkel’, and the string part was unsatisfactory.

Recording the song began in August 1969 in Hollywood, where producer Roy Halee gathered the elite session musicians known as the Hollywood Golden Trio: drummer Hal Blaine, bassist Joe Osborn and keyboardist Larry Knechtel. It was Knechtel’s challenging job to translate the music from guitar to piano according to Simon’s paradoxical brief: “Paul wanted it to be gospel but not gospel,” he recalled. Simon imagined that Bridge Over Troubled Water would be a “little hymn” but Garfunkel and Halee insisted that the song needed to be immense. It therefore needed a third verse, which Simon reluctantly and eventually wrote in the studio. It opened with a message to his wife-to-be Peggy Harper, who had recently fretted about finding her first grey hairs: “Sail on, silver girl.”

The rest of course is musical history.