Creating a bridge in a song is done for one key reason: to galvanize the “A-Ha!” moment of the song.
Musically, it should sound different – but how do you do that?
Paul Simon has a tip:
In an interview, he mentions that one of the devices he uses quite a bit is to construct the bridge from any notes left over from a twelve tone scale.
You can hear the device in use on his song “Still Crazy After All These Years.”
This song has a couple of interesting aspects to it that create quite a bit of contrast and highlight the bridge:
- The refrain has no point of view (POV) – it’s been stripped of any action, subsequently neutralizing the verb tense.
- The bridge is constructed to create an emotional “tipping point” by using meter that isn’t consistent. So, in the first line there are 4 stresses, the second 3 stresses, the third 4 stresses . . . starting to sound uniform, but in the fourth line, there are only two stresses – “all and fade.” You can hear them if you just say the line out loud: “It’s all gonna fade.” Since it ends short of where you think, you get an emotional longing of sorts.
It’s interesting to note that Paul Simon probably didn’t intentionally neutralize the verb tense of his refrain: the thought “still crazy after all these years” came to him when stepping into the shower.
It was self-reflection. He then wrote a song around the line.
Sometimes it’s worth showering!