Lyric of the Month

Sound of Silence

 

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 dare
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 whisper'd in the sounds of silence

This lyrical masterpiece is one of my, and most people's, favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs of all time. Something about the way they were able to make the song actually sound like the ghost of silence is lingering makes it actually incredible. I listen to the song and think to myself, "If silence had a voice, this is what it would sound like." I love the illustration the lyrics bring. Let's explore them a little bit. 

 

The first line, being the most iconic, dresses up darkness as an old, possibly wise friend. Just by this opening, I am already coated in goosebumps by the depth of just the entrance of the song. Knowing that Paul Simon came up with this line as a little boy going into to the bathroom with the lights off (Songfacts) helps me visualize somebody who is isolating his or herself and is accompanied by depression. Was he really talking about depression? Who knows. I always connect darkness, midnights, and silence with depression. They all have this cold, lonely feel to them. So, for me, this song dives into the mind of a person who has fallen into a depression. This is a song I listen to when I am having a low day because it captures the essence of what I am feeling in beautiful textures and visuals. 

The "sound of silence" is such a simple phrase, but I cannot get over all the different things it stands for. It's the vast desert that memories are buried and exhumed. It's the depression that alcohol bathes in and sews back together with staples. It's the emptiness of the music industry and the songs on the radio (Songfacts). It's the contagious empty words that spill from more and more tongues. It's the vacant air that emits horrible news. It's the distance between two hearts standing three feet from each other. It's the uncomfortable stillness between two anxious bodies. It's the answer to everything, but somehow it never is the answer you want to hear.

The song follows a character engulfed in depression and isolation walking to a bar. Here, he sees an ocean of people talking and responding, but nothing genuine. No one is saying anything profound, and no one actually cares about what is being said. The narrator goes on to warn about the dangers of this empty language saying it will spread. More and more people will become insincere and all truth will be lost. He tries to set an example by being authentic in his words and actions, but he gets ignored. It goes on to say that in the loudness of the bar filled with people worshipping their quickly emptied glasses, truth and wisdom is written on the walls and lies in the silence. 

 

I think the thing I focus on the most in this song is silence being portrayed as holding the truth. I find this to be most accurate because of the vulnerability silence has. You can see things about people they would not ever tell anyone if you just listen to their body language, their eyes, and energy. You can know if someone is hurting or if they are lying. All the mysteries of the world are hidden in the silence of nature, something we are too quick to speak about and develop opinions on. We can always talk ourselves through something and justify anything with logic. However, when we slow down and stop talking, we are able to listen to what the world is trying to tell us and really feel in our hearts what is true. The sound of silence becomes our conscience. When we are done defending ourselves, what are we actually thinking and feeling? Were our actions truly justified? Do your words match your heart's beliefs? When we listen to our feelings, to the "silence," we are able to hear and feel oceans more than we ever can by masking things with words. 

In conclusion, silence says a lot, and this song says even more. 

reference 1:Unknown. "The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel - Songfacts." Song Meanings at Songfacts,  www.songfacts.com/facts/simon-garfunkel/the-sound-of-silence. 

©2018 by Amanda Lorraine.