♫ Sound of Silence ♫

When I last played this song back in 2020, this was my lead-in:

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.

I played this song in 2018, 2019, and last in 2020 as noted above.  I have only ever played the Simon & Garfunkel version, but yesterday a new member of my blogging family, Erika from Share Your Light, suggested that perhaps the version by ‘Disturbed’ would be fitting for the times.  I had never heard of Disturbed before, but I went, I listened, and I thought, “Yeah, that is pretty apt for the times.”  And then, I discovered that Disturbed had done a 9/11 tribute version of this song.  As many of you are aware, 9/11 is very personal to me and can still bring tears just by the mention, and when I watched this version … wow.  That’s all I can say … wow.  So, I am including both the Disturbed version and the 9/11 tribute version, but I am keeping Simon & Garfunkel’s version on top, for it is and always will be their song.


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

20 thoughts on “♫ Sound of Silence ♫

  1. People’s reactions to music always fascinate me. The Disturbed version of this song is a strong counterpoint to the original, another facet of a gem. It doesn’t make me angry nor disturbed, and it does not disgust me. It’s simply another way of hearing the song being presented, another aspect to be considered. All this is a reminder of how personalized music can be to each of us, how it will speak to us in different ways, as you note with your reaction and connection to 9/11.

    Hugs and cheers, my friend. M

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, the fun in doing these music posts is two-fold: a) I learn the background of some of the artists and songs I have long loved, and b) it’s fun to see what different reactions my friends have to the music I play.

      I’m with you about the Disturbed version. I prefer S&G’s version, but the Disturbed version presents the song in a different light, one that is much different than the original and does so using the same exact words as the original.

      Hugs and cheers to you, dear Michael!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sadly, the S&G version isn’t available here. As for The Disturbed, what can I say? It is an abomination, a massacre of a beautiful song by someone who can’t sing. It should have been binned before release, to protect our ears. But I do like the original, which I had in both versions back in the day.

    Picking up Keith’s point, Homeward Bound was (in part) written while Paul Simon was at Wigan station awaiting a train, as the lyrics tell. He was popular in folk clubs here before the duo hit the big time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really? I’m so sorry! Last time I used it, nobody mentioned that it wouldn’t play over there, so I assumed it was all okay. I’ll find a new version next time I play it.

      I much prefer S&G’s version to that of Disturbed, but I didn’t hate Disturbed’s quite as much as you did, I think! I thought both versions have an appeal, though in different ways.

      Until I started doing these music posts back in 2018, I had no idea that Paul Simon had a career outside of S&G. Hmmmm … now you’ve planted an earworm with Homeward Bound …

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, such a long time that I haven’t listened to Disturbd. They are one of my favourites and their version of Sound Of Silence too. One thing I really enjoy here in Donegal is the silence. You hear the odd kid laughing or car engine but most sound seems to vanish into the moors up here. It is breathtaking and awesome. Have a l9vely Wednesday despite everything 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow … I am surprised to hear that Disturbed is among your favourites! Somehow I pictured you liking softer, gentler music, because you’re such a gentle person! I love learning what my friends like and don’t like musically!

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the silence and the atmosphere there in Donegal … I hope your troubles are all behind you now and you can live peacefully and joyfully, despite everything! Hugs, dear sweet Bee!!! 🤗

      Like

      • Ah, you made me smile. I love most styles of music from classical to hard rock. The only sort of music I despise is brass and marching bands. I run a mile when I hear one of those. Thanks for your good wishes and right back at you. Maybe a united humankind is still possible 💕

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  4. I did not know about their 9/11 version nor did I know that you have a close experience connected with 9/11. So, I can only imagine how deep this song and version may reach. Maybe that was why this song just came to my mind. I feel honored that you checked it out and published it. Much love to you, dear Jill 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am disturbed by the Disturbed. They took a quiet song of unheard pain and turned it into anger. This song makes me feel pain, but it does not make me angry. I lived with anger for the first 16 years of my life. It caused me huge amoiunts of pain. I’ll pass on being disturbed.
    (But those who need to be angry, I do hope they enjoy it.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so funny, because I thought that you, of all people, would really like the Disturbed’s version! It’s … louder, and you seem to like louder more than I do. Ah well, stick with S&G then, as I plan to do also!

      Like

  6. Jill, I read Simon’s biography and it echoes what you said. What I did not know is Simon toured England as a solo act playing some of his new songs that would later be recorded when the duo got back together. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll have to look at Simon’s biography … it should be interesting! Isn’t it fun to learn new things about the artists and songs we’ve known forever … or thought we knew? That’s one of the things I love about doing these music posts.

      Like

  7. Pingback: ♫ Sound of Silence ♫ | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

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