Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Paul Simon Says He Never Liked Singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” Himself: “It was Artie’s song, and Aretha brought the church”


Famed songwriter Paul Simon made a rare appearance on Saturday morning to promote his documentary “In Restless Dreams” at the Hamptons Film Festival.

Simon sat for over an hour on stage in front of an adoring and sold out crowd at the East Hampton Middle School auditorium. Rolling Stone film editor David Fear reviewed Simon’s career with him before audience members — including yours truly — got to ask some questions.

At around 5:30 in the video below I ask Simon about Aretha Franklin making her own kind of hit of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I said Paul had once told me he started performing “Bridge” in concert a la Aretha — and he had. He modified that answer yesterday and added that he never liked singing it himself because it was Art Garfunkel’s song, and then Aretha brought the church to it.

In the not-video’d part of the interview, Simon was very open and talked about how John Phillips had sent him and Garfunkel as “emissaries” to San Francisco to convince the Grateful Dead to perform at Monterey Pop. He called his long time producer Roy Halee his and Garfunkel’s George Martin. He also said the split with Garfunkel really was because Artie wanted to do films and wasn’t sticking full time to their duo.

Simon said yesterday and also says in the film that he didn’t learn Garfunkel was going to make Mike Nichols’ film, “Carnal Knowledge,” until he heard it from their mutual friend, Charles Grodin. When he asked Garfunkel why he didn’t tell him, Simon says his partner responded “Because I thought you’d stop making Bridge Over Troubled Water.” He added: “He wanted to be a movie star, which was understandable.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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