The best No 1 records: Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water

1970: In the wake of the traumas of the late 60s, no wonder this record felt like balm for a generation

Bridge Over Troubled Water may not have been the first No 1 of the 70s - it was preceded in the UK by Edison Lighthouse's Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) and Lee Marvin's Wan'drin' Star – but it felt like it. Released in the wake of the Charles Manson murders, the death of Brian Jones and the slaying of a black man at Altamont, it had the quality of an elegy. And the piano work – which earned Wrecking Crew member Larry Knechtel a Grammy – felt like balm for a generation exhausted by the tumult of the 60s. The opening words ("When you're weary"), sung plaintively by Garfunkel, spoke of disturbances past (Watts, MLK) and promised succour for dramas yet to come. It was an oddly old-fashioned message for the hippy times, delivered in quaint, almost courtly language ("I will lay me down"). The music was less countercultural than conventional, a Bacharach ballad for longhairs, and although the lyrics ("Your time has come to shine") were cliched schmaltz, against the epic backdrop of strings and echoing drums they seemed like secret messages. This was an easy listening panacea for the Woodstock children and testament to the magnificent healing power of pop, even if the Simon and Garfunkel coalition would soon fall apart.

See every No 1 hit from 1970

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Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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