Probably the biggest influence on Elvis and that closest to his heart was gospel music and in 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' he found a song in which that influence could shine through. Wheras the original recording by Simon (the song's composer) and Garfunkel is somewhat subdued Elvis turns it into a powerful showpiece.
This performance from 11 August 1970 Dinner Show, only the second time that he had sung it live, is Elvis Presley at his absolute peak and anyone who hears this cannot possibly have any doubts as to his vocal prowess or to the magnificent entertainer that he had become. Many fans point to the performance at Greensboro Coliseum almost two years later, the rendition included in the 'On Tour' movie as their favourite. Whilst acknowledging that it is a fabulous performance it seems to lack the freshness of those from August 1970 and now by this time, three Vegas seasons, one Tahoe Season and three tours later it almost feels like a routine performance.
In his book 'Heartbreak Hotel' author and music critic Robert Matthew Walker writes of this performance:
'Presley's outstanding singing is not disguised; this is a fabulous version, burning with sincerity and power, and finding depths not revealed by it's composers'
It was widely written around this time that after after witnessing an August 70 rendition of the song in Vegas that Paul Simon said
'That's it we might as well all give up now'
although he has since denied saying those exact words.
However in Rolling Stone magazine interview:
Paul Simon later noted that Presley's rendition of his song was a "touch on the dramatic side." "But so was the song," he added. "When I first heard Elvis perform 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' it was unbelievable. I thought to myself, 'How the hell can I compete with that?'"
So now, put on you headphones turn the volume up full and witness Elvis at his absolute best!!!
The audio in this video has been replaced with audio from disc#3 of Sony's TTWII Deluxe Edition which contains the entire 11 August DS from which this performance originates.