First Hit #1: February 28, 1970
Bridge Over Troubled Water happens to be one of the most sincere love songs ever written, a five minute celebration of the devotion one man has to a person in his life that is easy to sing but difficult to sing well. It’s almost religious – and I swear I’ve heard it repurposed by churches – but instead of being about god, it finds a certain spirituality in the connections that build between people and how they affect behavior. It works because it doesn’t focus on the person really, or the good times in a relationship, but instead what happens when things go badly. A relationship isn’t tested by happiness, but by sadness and anger, and Bridge Over Troubled Water shows that love isn’t merely being with someone you enjoy, but in one’s dedication to helping the other getting through that sadness and anger. It’s not an expression of an ideal relationship – we don’t even know anything about the other party – but of an ideal connection, one that would make someone willing to push through anything negative for the benefit of someone they care about.
It’s a shame that this is coming a week or so after Valentine’s Day, because it’s a song that sort of defines that idealized love that people wish for during that particular day of pink cardboard hearts.