Simon and Garfunkel didn’t leave a lot of songs in the vault when they broke up in 1970, but that hasn’t stopped Columbia from spending the next 46 years reissuing the duo’s music in every possible sort of package they could think up. That includes too many greatest-hits albums to count easily, along with four box sets and a super edition of Bridge Over Troubled Water that is packed with demos, B sides and rarities.
A single song has escaped release on all these collections: “Cuba Si, Nixon No.” The light-hearted take on Cuba’s political situation was written during the Bridge Over Troubled Water sessions and was supposed to be the 12th song on the album. “Artie didn’t want to do it,” Simon told Rolling Stone in 1972. “We even cut the track for it. Artie wouldn’t sing on it. And Artie wanted to do a Bach chorale thing, which I didn’t want to do. We were fightin’ over which was gonna be the twelfth song, and then I said, ‘Fuck it, put it out with 11 songs, if that’s the way it is.’ We were at the end of our energies over that.”
Paul admitted many years later that “Cuba Si, Nixon No” isn’t a great song and probably didn’t deserve to appear on the record, though its unclear which one of them has refused to let Columbia put it on any of the archival releases. Not only did it not appear on the 2011 Bridge Over Troubled Water box set – they also kept it off the live album that documented their 1969 tour. Fortunately, a stellar bootleg has circulated for years of the group’s 1969 gig at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where they played the song. It’s the only recording of the song out there, and you can hear it right here. Hopefully some day they’ll release it for real – maybe on a super-duper-deluxe Bridge Over Troubled Water timed to the LP’s 50th anniversary in 2020.