The enormity of the song's success somewhat overshadowed the brilliance of the album on which it appeared. The album of the same title was also a huge success, hitting the top spot on the Billboard album chart. The album does not contain a dud on it. The duo was on the cusp of breaking up, and this album is probably the best example of an act quitting while at the top.
The success of the song 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' may be the product of good timing as well as being a great song. It is important to remember the context in which it was released. In the late 1960s, the Vietnam War had caused unrest. Violence and assassinations had played a prominent role on the American landscape. The country was tired and divided. By 1970, when this song was released, it was the perfect time for a song about friendship and reconciliation to appear on the radio.
The album, as a whole, is beautiful. 'El Conder Pasa (If I Could)' was an adaptation of a Peruvian folk song played with instruments associated with the musical culture of the
'Cecilia' was also a big hit that dealt with the ups and downs of a romantic relationship in a humorous way. 'The Boxer' showcased Simon's lyrics and singing about an anonymous athlete trying to hang on. 'Keep the Customer Satisfied' is a fairly standard song about the demands of serving the public, but chewy horns take the song to another level.
'So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright' is a song that confused me for a while. A song about an architect did not seem to fit the tone of the album, so its inclusion was perplexing. Later I learned that Garfunkel was once an architecture student, and the song is actually Simon dealing with their impending break up in a veiled way. The song is clever and interesting.
The album is filled with choice pop songs. Because of its success, it is almost a greatest hits album without being a greatest hits album.
It represents the best of its genre.