Bridge over Troubled Water was my introduction to the astounding repertoire of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, known popularly as Simon and Garfunkel. With just this one song I realized what a phenomenon they were.
At its heart, the song was a touching promise and a proof of rock solid commitment. Growing up, I learned to value the strength it contained within itself, the reassurance it offered.
Can there be a greater love than laying down your life for those you love?
But this one ranked a close second.
Being there for those you loved. Holding their hands and comforting them. Wiping the tears from their eyes and offering to stand between them and the hardships that each day flung at them. That was the comfort that was implicit in these words.
A safe way out of the most difficult situations. When the world turns its back on you, how comforting to have that one person who never deserts you, but stands in your corner to the very end.
In essence, the song expressed the strength of the most durable relationships. The promise in the song was the glue that holds and binds all ties together.
As a kid, I wondered if a special someone would ever sing this song for me.
As a teenager, two of my closest friends and I sang it for the fourth friend in our quartet when she had her first heartbreak. Later, we all had need of that song. It was a part of growing up, and it was refreshing to hear that song, whether it was sung soulfully by Simon or Garfunkel, or “murdered” by tone-deaf friends, the comfort it offered, remained undiminished.
Bridge Over Troubled Water can still do that to me.
Another B that has the ability to blow me away was sung by none other than a B. It was Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind, a song that helped me appreciate how compelling a well written song could be.
The poetry of protest and revolution and insurrection.
The poetry of questions.
The kind that asks questions that no one has answers to.
But even when the answers are blowing in the wind, it helps to know that they are there. Like the wind, invisible and hard to grasp, but certainly there.
Blowin’ in the wind helped me understand that music didn’t always have to soothe.
Rap, the sound track of the anti-Establishment, had not yet emerged as a voice then. And Blowin’ in the Wind succeeded in making a political statement that was couched in stylized vocals. It seemed so easy.
There was no grilling or rattling of our consciences.
Without holding anyone of us responsible for the abysmal state of affairs, it still managed to evoke in us a sense of political responsibility.
What kind of a song was it?
Just a series of rhetorical questions thrown up into the air, into the wind, left to fall as they may, by the wayside where they might be trampled upon or in the minds of its listeners who might be persuaded to understand its deep meaning.
What kind of a man did it speak of?
Whether you were a woman, a dark-skinned person, a slave or a prisoner, whatever you were, it enveloped you and the oppression you suffered in the embrace of “man,” signifying the human experience, and how we are all alike, or ought to be.
But even within the confines of melodiousness, I could see that it was possible to prick the conscience of your listeners, to make them see that some things weren’t right, to feel for those others, even in the midst of your comfort.
The writing was beautiful, and as the song flowed on, sonorous, seemingly lulling you to sleep, it was actually shaking your sensibilities awake.
Whether Dylan was speaking against war or about human rights and freedom, I believe he was asking us, as humans, to give others their due, to give them the same rights we demand for ourselves.
Pay attention to the lyrics of that song, and you’ll see what I mean. If you don’t already, and you’re not already nodding in agreement.
The answer is blowin’ in the wind. Will that wind move us to tears or leave us scrambling for cover?
The answer to that question is as relevant as ever.
The third B song that mattered much in my growing up years was Jim Reeves' But you love me, Daddy.
That song can still make me feel all warm and fuzzy and gooey inside.
I learned that it wasn't Dad's original composition only when it played on the radio, on Saturday Date. For a brief while, I felt crushed. Dad had not written that song for me.
But the feeling passed.
And I realised that it didn't matter if Dad wasn't the original singer.
When Dad sang it, it was mine.
That was all that mattered.