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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.

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    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.

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    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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