The Bridge Between Simon & Garfunkel and Beyoncé

The Opus continues its walk over the Bridge by exploring the power of the visual album

The Opus - Simon and Garfunkel
The Opus – Simon and Garfunkel

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    The Opus is halfway across the Bridge.

    What do Alex Jones, Beyoncé’s Lemonade, and Simon and Garfunkel have in common? More than you think! In 1969, the two bards were asked to make a TV special to debut 1970’s Bridge over Troubled Water. Rather than opting for the traditional approach — think: Elvis Presley’s 1968 comeback special — they created a visual album. Ring a bell?

    Songs of America, directed by Charles Grodin (yes, that Charles Grodin), was an experimental, non-linear, collage of live footage, behind-the-scenes shots, and proto-music videos set to news footage from the turbulent ’60s. The result cost them their lead sponsor, pissed off a million Americans, and even lead to death threats if you can believe that.

    Host Andy Bothwell speaks to culture reporter Steve Marsh (GQ/Esquire/Pitchfork) on what caused this film to illicit such a strong reaction from America. He also connects with Bon Iver’s design team and video directors Eric Carlson and Aaron Anderson, who weigh in on the through-lines between their work and this 50-year-old TV special.


    Listen above and subscribe to The Opus to hear further episodes from this season.

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    In celebration of the album’s 50th anniversary, stream a selection of Simon & Garfunkel’s best tracks via all major streaming services. You can also enter to win a vinyl bundle featuring the duo’s entire collaborative discography.

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