"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)



"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






Bridge over Troubled Water

Can I hear you saying, "this isn't a Gospel song"?

Well technically you would be right, as it is not classified as a gospel song. However, when Paul Simon, who is a Christian, wrote it, he said that it was "a humble little gospel hymn song with two verses and a simple guitar behind it". That at least is how it sounds on the demo, but the final product was much more grandiose. Apparently one of the main influences for the song was a line that Paul heard on the radio in 1957. He was listening to the Swan Silvertone's version of "Oh, Mary Don't you Weep", and heard Claude Jeter singing a line of scat midway through; "I'll be your bridge over deep water if you trust in My name". 'My name' of course refers to the name of Jesus, which the Bible says is 'the name above all names'.

I wonder how many people the song has influenced to become Christian? One of our daughters tells us that when she was 'searching' and becoming interested in Christianity this song had a profound effect on her. She was listening to it one day and suddenly realised that Jesus is the bridge over troubled water, and that the words of the song could be taken as the words of Jesus to us. A short time later she accepted Jesus as her Saviour and Lord.

There are certainly biblical references in the song. As we all know, Jesus 'laid down' his life for us, 'he took our part', so that we may not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16.) Also the Lord promises to dry our tears "The sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces" (Isaiah 25:8). And of course the Lord is our friend and comforter. The reference to "your time has come to shine" is found in Isaiah 60. Read the whole of that chapter if you can. It is certainly encouraging, full of the promises of God.

When asked what he thought of Elvis version of the song Paul said this. "It was in his Las Vegas period and done with conventional thinking. He sang it well, but it would have been nice to hear him do it gospel because he did so many gospel albums and was a good white gospel singer. It would have been nice to hear him do it that way, to take it back - as opposed to the big ending; he seemed to end everything with a karate chop and an explosion. So he didn't really add anything to the song. It's not nearly as significant as the Aretha Franklin recording. It's just a pleasure for me that Elvis Presley recorded one of my songs before he died".


When you're weary, feeling small

When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all

I'm on your side When times get rough

And friends just can't be found

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down

When you're down and out

When you're on the street

When evening falls so hard

I will comfort you

I'll take your part

When darkness comes

And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Sail on silver girl Sail on by

Your time has come to shine

All your dreams are on their way

See how they shine

If you need a friend

I'm sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind


Madeleine Wilson, part of a presentation at the Inaugural Elvis Presley Convention held in Canberra, Australia on Sunday, 28 November 2004

Feature interviews for November
Paul Simpson
Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ed Bonja
Ernst Jorgensen
Phil Aitcheson (Presley Commission)
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Elvis Odd Spot (updated 17 Nov 2004)