The Sounds of Silence

The Sounds of Silence

When does an old song become new and change the world again?

Like most of my high school friends in 1964, I listened to WABX, the Detroit freeform / progressive rock station sometimes called “The station that glows in the dark.”  It was on WABX that I first heard Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel perform “The Sounds of Silence.”

Image of Simon & GarfunkelI remember all of us – my circle of friends – being stunned by the simplicity of the single folksy acoustic guitar – remember, this was the same year as The Stone’s “19th Nervous Breakdown” and Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheel’s “Devil with the Blue Dress On.”

But it wasn’t just the music that captivated us. Somewhere, deep inside, despite our youth and lack of real understanding of the world at large, the lyrics struck a chord and stayed with us. Perhaps I should say they stayed silent within us.

Here’s a link to a recording of the original version from 1964. If you’re like me, it takes you back, and in some way, makes you smile, makes you remember those carefree days.

Fast forward fifty years (OMG! FIFTY years!) and my son tells me to watch the YouTube Video cover of the song by a group called DISTURBED.  I have to admit I was disturbed to know that there was a heavy metal band called Disturbed, but that’s not the point.

Image of David Draiman, Lead Singer of DisturbedThis new version of an old song earned Disturbed a 2016 Grammy Nomination for Best Rock Performance. 

The cover video blew me away, made me realize that Paul Simon was a prophet as well as a songwriter.  We didn’t know it then. Perhaps we don’t want to believe it now.

Think about the lyric “…And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made…” in terms of today’s totally electronic world.

Think about “..people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening…” in terms of our primary method of communications – Social Media (which is no longer social and is anything but valid media).

Think about the images Disturbed used in their video.

And let them echo – in the Sounds of Silence.



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4 Responses to The Sounds of Silence

  1. Bob Wonnacott says:

    Terrific post, Linda. I watched both renditions of “The Sounds of Silence” and they were both great. I thought the imagery in the version by Disturbed aided in my better understanding of the words. I had heard this song many times, but never really listened to the words until today. What a beautiful and meaningful song. Thank you.

    • Linda Anger says:

      Thank you, Bob!
      I think we – or at least I – missed the angst of the original, because in many regards, the music was at odds with the lyrics. We were engaged in the flow of the music, the beauty of the vocal qualities and harmonies. The version by Disturbed marries the lyrics with the orchestration, and wraps around the vocal. I love that the video starts with David Draiman (Lead Singer of Disturbed) completely in the dark, and that the entire video is black and white. I read that shortly after the video was released, Paul Simon contacted Draiman to praise him for their version.

  2. Cindy L says:

    Spot on, Linda. I too have found Paul Simon to be prophetic. I started listening to him when I was in junior high, back in the late 1960s. The beautiful lyrics on “Wednesday Morning, 3:00 AM” — as well as those on his subsequent albums — inspired me to be a writer. He’s an amazing political activistic today, and truly a voice for people like us.

    Today’s political climate frightens me, and saddens me; I no longer feel at ease or at home in my own country. “The Sounds of Silence” could be an anthem for some of us. Good music is still a comfort.

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