I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready for sleep
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59th Street Bridge span
Written by Paul Simon, this song is often referred to as "Feelin' Groovy."
The song first appeared in the hugely popular album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme,
recorded by the famous folk singing duo and released in 1966. That initial recording features two backing instrumentalists from the Dave Brubeck Quartet – Joe Morello on drums and Eugene Wright on bass.
Many successful cover versions have been made including by Harpers Bizarre, The Seekers and Nana Mouskouri. Led Zeppelin used to include snippets from the song in some of their guitar riffs, although these are mainly heard only on bootleg recordings.
A musical lawsuit arose when composer and lyricist Paul Simon once sued a children's TV series claiming that their theme song was, in fact, his "59th Street Bridge Song." Simon won the court case and his name was added to the list of credits on the show. Presumably, his bank balance was added to, also.
The American clothing retailer The Gap used the song as part of its marketing campaign in 2003 and the song was then known by the name "Feelin' Groovy."
59th Street Bridge ca. 1908
(hanks, George Graham Bain)
Just as the song has multiple titles, so too does the actual bridge it's named after. Three in fact, as the 59th Street Bridge, which crosses the East River in New York City, is also known as the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, or just plain old Queensboro Bridge. Mind you, before it opened it was the Blackwell's Island Bridge, because it stood above what was then Blackwell Island, but which today is Roosevelt Island. If nothing else, it kept the sign writers busy.
The bridge was opened to traffic in 1909, but had a troubled start. During construction, a wind storm blew down one its spans, and further delays were caused by domestic terrorism. History repeated itself in 2001 during the September 11 attack, when the bridge was swamped with New Yorkers fleeing the disaster on Manhattan.
Building a bridge 100 years ago was a big event. Parades, parties and politicians came out of the metalwork. With the 59th Street Bridge due to open in 1909, the Celebration Committee received 235 applications from would-be jumpers. Most were professional stunt performers, but 34 were listed as freaks and 9 as suicides. The latter were mainly females suffering from unrequited love. Whatever else, they were not feeling groovy.
The bridge is no small river crossing, either, and originally it carried pedestrians, trains and vehicular traffic, with as many as six tram car or railway companies taking passengers to and from Manhattan via the bridge at any given time.
Today the renovated bridge has 10 lanes for vehicles on two levels, with access for pedestrians and cyclists. A hundred years after it was built it was renamed in honor of the former New York mayor, Ed Koch. Constant repairs to the structure are a bugbear and those pedaling or walking complain of car fumes. But for many this bridge is their favorite, not least because it is toll free!
Inside the bridge c. 1908
If you land at LaGuardia and are heading midtown, ask the cabbie to drive on the upper level of the 59th Street Bridge. You'll get a great sight of the Manhattan skyline and even the so-called popular Brooklyn Bridge. More romantic to some, but what price character and history?
You may no longer be able to travel by train on the 59th Street Bridge, but running - or should that be hanging - beside the bridge is an aerial tram car service known as the Roosevelt Island Tramway. It opened in the 1970s and today offers a speedy and spectacular journey over the East River to and from Manhattan. Passengers get a bird's-eye view of the famous cantilever 59th Street Bridge.
The New York City Marathon is an internationally famous race and competitors make their first entry on to the island of Manhattan via the Ed Koch Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge.
The Woody Allen movie Manhattan
gave the bridge much prominence, even using the structure in the poster promoting the film. Many films and TV shows have featured the bridge, and two characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby" traverse the bridge on their way to Manhattan. Is there a better recommendation?
"The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time." ~ The Great Gatsby
~ Cenarth Fox
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) Songfacts
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