♫ Sound of Silence ♫

I have played this one before, but it’s been over a year so I’m playing it again.  There is a reason that this one seems appropriate at this time.  A couple of reasons, maybe.  First, the noise of late has been deafening.  I’m talking about the situation here in the U.S.  We have mega fights on three fronts taking place simultaneously:  the November election, the confirmation process for the next Supreme Court justice, and the pandemic.  All three are highly contentious and it feels like there are many key players screeching like banshees.  The next two weeks promise to turn into sheer bedlam.  I, who am nearly deaf anyway, find the slightest noise has become annoying … a car revving its engine, a toilet flushing, the washing machine spinning make me want to scream “shut up!!!”  And so it came to me … I long for the sound of silence.

This song has an interesting history that I wasn’t aware of until tonight, because the last time I played it, I did not include any background trivia.

The song was written by Paul Simon over several months in 1963 and 1964. A studio audition led to the duo signing a record deal with Columbia Records, and the original ‘acoustic’ version of the song was recorded in March 1964 at Columbia Studios in New York City and included on their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.. Released on October 19, 1964, the album was a commercial failure and led to the duo disbanding; Simon returned to England, and Art Garfunkel to his studies at Columbia University.

In 1965, the song began to attract airplay at radio stations in Boston, Massachusetts, and throughout Florida. The growing airplay led Tom Wilson, the song’s producer, to remix the track, overdubbing electric instruments and drums. This remixed version was released as a single in September 1965. Simon & Garfunkel were not informed of the song’s remix until after its release!

Sounds like grounds for a lawsuit to me, but then … the song hit #1 in late December, so who can complain, right?  Simon & Garfunkel reunited and hastily recorded their second album, which Columbia titled Sounds of Silence in an attempt to capitalize on the song’s success. The remixed single version of the song was included on this follow-up album.

Paul Simon was often compared to Bob Dylan, who was also signed to Columbia Records, and while Simon has acknowledged Dylan’s influence on The Sound Of Silence, he was never trying to measure up to Dylan.  Simon says …

“I tried very hard not to be influenced by him, and that was hard. ‘The Sound Of Silence’, which I wrote when I was 21, I never would have wrote it were it not for Bob Dylan. Never, he was the first guy to come along in a serious way that wasn’t a teen language song. I saw him as a major guy whose work I didn’t want to imitate in the least.”

There is quite a bit more info about this song on Wikipedia and Songfacts, if you’re interested.  Meanwhile …

The Sound of Silence
Simon & Garfunkel
Produced by Tom Wilson

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by
The flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said:
“The words of the prophets are
Written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.”

Songwriters: Paul Simon
The Sound of Silence lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

28 thoughts on “♫ Sound of Silence ♫

  1. Pingback: Sound of Silence – Dried Ocean Range

  2. Jill, Paul Simon eventually became heavily involved in all aspects of recording his songs, maybe because of this incident. From his biography, he went to England and toured the country, writing several songs he would later record with Garfunkel. I think both were sad that the first Sounds of Silence did not do well. Keith

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  3. One of the biggest influences of the sixties and seventies and never equalled. Far too many favourites to name except perhaps Silent Night- 6 O,clock News which never fails to make me sad. Equisite timing.

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    • Strangely, until your mention just now, I had never heard the one you mention (actually, 7:00, but then there is a time difference between our countries). I may play it at some point, but you’re right … it made me sad listening to it. I think I have another one by S&G that I will play soon, though … think “cooking”!

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  4. I’ve loved this song for a long time for its harmonies, poignant images, and its message. But it has been years since I heard it. Reading the words just now, without the music, took me to a deeper understanding for which I am thankful. Even when I think it is safer to be silent, I will not be comfortable staying silent. I will speak my truth, even if my voice shakes.

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  5. The sounds of silence (are there multiple sounds?) evokes the concept of the joy of spending time alone. I am part of the world, but I don’t need to have it pouring on my head every second of the day,

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    • Oh yes, my friend … the kind of silence that allows us to breathe and to think, to reason, to … to just be for a few moments. Weekend was okay … except my apartment is falling apart! FOUR things have broken in the past week!!! We’ve lived here 22 years, and they never fix anything, so all of a sudden everything is breaking! I look for the ceiling to fall in next! Otherwise, though, all is well!


  6. I tend to like the original too though everyone else in my family likes the disturbed version and though it’s done well, that one is way overplayed in my opinion.
    I don’t know how many cover versions there are but i’d expect there are quite a few I haven’t heard of.
    Also, may I share my latest song with you guys? I wrote it Friday and completed the third and final version late last night. it’s my most emotional song to date and I was even crying while listening back to it, maybe it was the title, or maybe the time of year, perhaps thinking about my brother, but it could be all of those things.
    I think you’d like it so if it’s okay, I can share it here. Someone said it reminded of them a bit of Enya which was an interesting observation.

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  7. This song has been buzzing around in my head to post for a week now, Jill, so thanks. It has always been huge for me, since high school. The message is so glaringly apparent yet masked in such a way that only enlightened individuals might perceive its magnitude. To me, it seems that humans have been ignoring words of truth and love as along as I can remember and if one pays attention to history, much longer than that. It was the beginning of a new awakening i. The 60’ and 70’s until complacency moved in and began a deep hypnosis over society. By the year 2000 many were very comfortable in the age of electronics and capitalism and it seemed that any vision of change was left to those idealistic flower children who could teach their children well. Too many others did not and here we are, priorities upended, while the Pied Piper squeaks out his mesmerizing promise of superiority and endless gold. “And my words…like silent raindrops fell, and echoed in the wells of silence.” Long live Dillon, Guthrie, Simon, Willie, Cash, Prine, Gilmore, and dear John Lennon. My sons all know these artists and their words. I love so many S&G songs. The Boxer is a favorite too.

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