Monday, August 04, 2008

The Sound of Silence

It was written on February 19 1964 by Paul Simon in the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Simon conceived of the song as a way of capturing the emotional trauma felt by many Americans.

Hello darkness, my old friend,
Ive 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 deared
Disturb the sound of silence.

Fools said I said, 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 signs said, the words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls.
And whisperd in the sounds of silence.

This was used in the movie The Graduate. The film's director Mick Nichols put it on as a work track and was going to replace it, but as the film came together it became clear that the song was perfect for the film. Nichols didn't just use this song, but felt Simon & Garfunkel had a sound that fit the tone of the movie very well. They commissioned them to write "Mrs. Robinson" specifically for the movie, and also added "Scarborough Fair" and "April Come She Will" to the film.

This has a lot of meaning in the movie The Graduate. The lyrics refer to silence as a cancer, and if people in the movie had just been honest and not afraid to talk, all the messy things would not have happened. Problems can be solved only by honesty.




Blogger Kansas Bob said...

One of my favorite groups and songs.. they were not nearly as good individually.

5:14 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Bob,

That's one of my favorite groups too. When they are together. I did not appreciate their songs so much when they are on their own. Have lost some of their magic or chemistry.

7:47 PM  
Blogger sp lim said...

Thanks Alex. Yes, they are better as a duet. Reminds me of Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre in the literary world. Their collaboration produced classics such as O Jerusalem , Freedom after Midnight & Is Paris Burning? Except maybe for Lapierre's City of Joy which was made into a movie, none of the other books written by them individually have received much acclaim.

What about Everly Brothers? Do you like them too?

11:51 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi sp Lim,

I like the Everly Brothers too. Ah, that brings me down memory lane. Somehow it reminds of Roger Whittaker. Nobody talks about Roger Whittaker anymore.

1:58 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home