Throwback Thursday: Aretha Franklin – “Bridge over Troubled Water” (Live at the Grammy Awards)
On March 16, 1971, the night of the 13th Grammy Awards, Aretha Franklin performed her version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water.” She had performed it at a few of her shows in the weeks prior, but for the first time, the world got to hear it.
Covering a hit song is always a bold choice, and even more so when that song is only a year old — the original was released in January 1970. However, it was pretty common for artists to cover each other’s shit within months of the original’s release — even Elvis Presley had covered “Bridge” months before Aretha.
On that night at the Grammys, the original won Grammys for Best Contemporary Song, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. Most people would think twice about covering a song that big on a night like that, but when you’re Aretha Franklin, you can do whatever the fuck you want — especially when you were one of the muses for its creation.
While the original is a haunting and beautifully sung, Aretha’s version is a lot more soulful. She “takes us to church” in the truest sense of that expression. Her version went on to become a classic in its own right, peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance the following year.