Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Harpers Bizarre--The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) (1967)

     It was the summer of 1966 and Paul Simon was having issues with adjusting with his new found fame. He had been in England the year before writing in anonymity when an electric version of his song, "The Sound of Silence" broke on the charts. Along with singing partner Art Garfunkel, they quickly followed up with, "Homeward Bound" and "I Am a Rock", both top ten hits, but not necessarily songs that were considered upbeat. The rush of new found fame did little to put Simon in a happier frame of mind as he continued to churn out songs that were on the dour side.
     However, it was while coming home early one morning driving over the 59th Street Bridge (officially known as the Queensboro Bridge) that he began to take stock of what was going on around him. His hard work over the years had began to bear fruit, and rather than rush through it all, that he should step back a bit more and enjoy life a bit more. This was the genesis of what would become, "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)".
     The song was included on the album, "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" which was released in October of 1966. This version was never released as an "A" side, but was on the "B" side of the top 20 single, "At the Zoo", released in the Spring of 1967.

      Meanwhile, producer Lenny Waronker was wanting to take the song and make a hit out of it. He approached Leon Russell who came up with a multi-layer arraignment reminiscent of something from the mind of Brian Wilson. Waronker then enlisted a group from LA known as The Tikis to record the song. The members were all for doing the recording, but were known around town as a group which did Beatle-type music, and didn't want any confusion concerning this new direction, so they were rechristened, Harpers Bizarre (a play on the magazine Harper's Bazaar).
     The song became a hit, reaching number 13 on the charts in winter/spring of 1967 and for the next two years found themselves on the charts with songs that were chocked full of vocal harmonies, although none of them did near as well. They broke up in 1969.
     One of the members to make note of was Ted Templeman who became a producer of artists such as The Doobie Brothers, Carly Simon, Van Morrison, and Van Halen.


Post a Comment