About The Song
“The Sound of Silence” was penned by one-half of the folk duo, Paul Simon. The then-21-year-old fittingly found the song while alone in the darkness.
“The main thing about playing the guitar was that I was able to sit by myself and play and dream,” Simon shared in an interview with Playboy (quote via Ultimate Classic Rock). “And I was always happy doing that. I used to go off in the bathroom, because the bathroom had tiles, so it was a slight echo chamber. I’d turn on the faucet so that water would run – I like that sound, it’s very soothing to me – and I’d play. In the dark.”
Hello, darkness, my old friend / I’ve come to talk with you again, the song begins against a pensive pluck of strings, mirroring Simon’s state at the song’s inception.
“The Sound of Silence” was released on the duo’s debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., but the acoustic album was initially a failure and led to Simon & Garfunkel disbanding for a spell, the former in pursuit of a solo career abroad and the latter in search of higher education.
Unbeknownst to the two, “The Sound of Silence” had perked a few ears and was seeing a fair amount of airplay in certain regions. The song’s producer Tom Wilson decided to rearrange it, adding drums and electric guitars to round out the original acoustics, and in 1965, re-released “The Sound of Silence” as the song we know today.
The new and improved tune was an immediate success, becoming an international No. 1 and leading to the regrouping of Simon & Garfunkel, a partnership that would go on to produce one of
folk’s most enduring songbooks.
“This is a song about the inability of people to communicate with each other,” Art Garfunkel can be heard perfectly summing up the song in the below performance.
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
Within the sound of silenceIn restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a streetlamp
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 silenceAnd 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
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 silenceAnd 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 sounds of silence.”