Bridge Over Troubled Water

During the creation of the Bridge Over Troubled Water album, Art Garfunkel accepted a role in the screen adaptation of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. For this part, he had to travel down to Mexico for filming. This move frustrated Paul Simon who wanted to focus on the album, and many blame this incident as one of the principle causes of the duo’s break-up. In looking at the lyrics of the album, one can see that several of the songs reflect this period as Paul was in New York and Art away in Mexico…

From So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright:

So long, Frank Lloyd Wright.
I can’t believe your song is gone so soon.
I barely learned the tune.
So soon.
So soon.
I’ll remember Frank Lloyd Wright,
All of the nights we’d harmonize till dawn.
I never laughed so long.
So long.
So long.

This is the first definite reference to Art Garfunkel and his trip on the album. Frank Lloyd Wright was a famous architect and, because Art studied architecture in college, becomes a symbol of him in this song. Thus, Paul seems sad that Art is gone “so soon” before he had barely “learned the tune”. One could imagine that this indicates a feeling that Art had left things unfinished. That he longingly remembers “all the nights we’d harmonize till dawn” would hint that Paul wanted thingsback the way they were.

From The Only Living Boy in New York:

Tom, get your plane right on time.
I know your part’ll go fine.
Fly down to Mexico.
Da-n-da-da-n-da-n-da-da and here I am,
The only living boy in New York.

This is a very direct reference to the event. Tom was the name used by Art Garfunkel during the duo’s high school performance days as Tom and Jerry. The lyric mentions his part in the movie and his trip to Mexico. Paul also refers to himself as “the only living boy in New York” which may or may not be a veiled reference to his irritation at being left to work on the Bridgeproject alone.

From Why Don’t You Write Me:

Why don’t you write me
I’m out in the jungle,
I’m hungry to hear you….
Mail it today
If it’s only to say
That you’re leaving me.

If this is also a reference to Art’s trip, that fact is not as clear as the other songs on the album. However, the theme of loneliness and being left on one’s own does seem to carry through here. Indeed, the line “if it’s only to say that you’re leaving me” could be taken as signifying a worry about the direction in which their partnership was heading.

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