Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water Production Notes

Production Notes

Sessions for Bridge Over Troubled Water began at Columbia's Nashville studio in November 1968 with 'The Boxer', with Simon duetting on guitar with session player Fred Carter using special tunings. The vocals were recorded in the studio and the brass was recorded in Columbia University Chapel, due to its fine acoustics. Two string tracks were committed to tape, one with the musicians playing along with the track, the other with them playing their parts alone, which were blended together at the fade.

The drums and bass were added at Columbia Studios in New York. For the huge Phil Spector-ish drum sound in the chorus, engineer and producer Roy Halee tested the reverberation time in different parts of the building by clapping his hands and ended up placing drummer Hal Blaine on a ramp near an elevator shaft, with two large tom-toms on a stand.

Blaine hit them as hard as he could and the acoustics of the space alone produced the vast sound heard on the record. To accommodate all this, Halee ended up running two eight-tape recorders together to give 16-tracks. 'The Boxer' took over 100 hours to record. With only 'The Boxer' and its B-side 'Baby Driver' in the can, sessions resumed in Hollywood. Despite rumours that the epic title track took even longer than 'The Boxer' it only took around a week.

The percussion sounds on 'Cecilia' were Simon, Garfunkel and their entourage in their rented house in Laurel Canyon playing on a piano stool with whatever was available. Drumsticks can be heard hitting the parquet flooring in the room and so Halee turned this into a percussion loop. He won a Grammy in 1971 for his engineering on the album.