I’m a dissector of music.  I always have been.  I drive people nuts with this process but it is just the way I’ve always been.

“The Sound of Silence” is one of those tracks that I’ve gone over many, many times since my pre-teens.  Listening to the excellent Art Garfunkel career retrospective over the last few weeks, I’ve re-developed my razor sharp focus into “The Sound of Silence”.

Now, “The Sound of Silence” has always been an important song to me.  But with the remaster of this track on The Singer, I’ve become a repeat player of that song, rolling the words and verses over and over in my head.


I call “The Sound of Silence” one of the great tracks of Rock and Roll.  Oddly, I find it of more worth than “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, a song that I love immensely.  And since I’m revisiting it, I would LOVE to hear your comments on this Simon & Garfunkel classic.

What I’m interested in hearing (if you do this) is what the song may mean to you.  Or what you believe the song to mean.  I realize that all music is subjective.  However, sometimes a song can be close enough to several interpretations to make valid sense.

“The Sound of Silence” is not too veiled either.  So, I hope that every one gets a chance to put their thoughts into this.

For me, it’s a matter of communication.  All too often, we’re not paying the attention to things that can benefit us.  We “hear without listening”, talk without speaking”.  Because of all this inability to communicate effectively, we have fallen into a great darkness punctuated by the “cold and damp” “alone” along “narrow streets of cobblestone”.  It adds in a plea to “hear my words that I might teach you”, and “take my arms that I might reach you”.  The end result is the sad reality that “words, like silent raindrops fell, and echoed in the wells of silence.”

Does this song state the sad conclusion that our preoccupations with whatever distractions face us have kept us in a state of darkness?

Whatever the philosophy surrounding the song, it is an important one.  It is too important to pass up the opportunity to discuss it.  I hope to get some intelligent discussion going on this (and perhaps other songs as well).

Please participate if you feel so moved to join in.

By MARowe

12 thoughts on “Great Tracks: The Sound Of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel”
  1. “Sounds of Silence” is easily one of the greatest songs ever recorded, I completely agree with that. I find the song, to me personally, to be about isolation and not having anyone to talk to or communicate with in a busy world. Simon writes about this topic constantly, especially in the song “The Boxer”. Also, I have noticed that this song is almost like a cry for help to the listener. I do not think that it is a coincidence that the song can be abbreviated as S.O.S.

  2. This is one of those songs that have always meant a great deal to me without me ever really putting much thought into why. Listening to it again just now, I was struck by how visual the lyrics are. The halo of a street lamp, the sign flashed out its warning. Neon is mentioned not once but twice. I think the emotions behind the song are complex and mysterious but also universal.

    Do more of these, Matt! Great idea for a series!

  3. Another reason that Tom Wilson was one of the most important 60’s producers. Probably not too much to say he gave Samp;G their careers with this radio hit.

  4. A classic of epic proportions no doubt. For me the sound of silence is the sound we receive from mindless idol worship of people we don’t know and probably will never meet. The words “and the people bowed and prayed to the neon gods they made” resonate when I see people doing anything for a famous person, a person whom they don’t really know so the communication is one way and not reciprocated. The words of these prophets are “written on subway walls and tenement halls” now what famous two words are written on these walls? Simon is telling us to wise up, communication only occurs in a meaningful way when the dialogue is returned in a two way exchange. Otherwise there is only the sound of silence.

  5. If you haven’t heard it, the Hanseroth brothers do a great basically acapella version of this song on the live Brandi Carlile album Live at Benaroya Hall With The Seattle Symphony. And whereas the re-master on Garfunkel’s “Singer” album is fantastic, why didn’t they re-master “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which sounds a bit muddy and hissy?

  6. A song very open to interpretation.

    To me it’s always conveyed a hopelessness that people do not listen to (or are not open to) other’s points of view. And that everyone is so sure that their point of view, convictions and beliefs are the correct ones that those of others may as well be silence. While they themselves continue to hammer their views to the others who are so sure of their view that they aren’t hearing them either.

  7. Another twist on this great song is its subtle inclusion in another Samp;G gem, “Save the Life of My Child” from Bookends.

    If you listen closely, you can hear “Hello, darkness my old friend” buried under the lysergic sounds. It’s pretty chilling the first time you hear it, especially taken in context with the song.

  8. To me the song speaks about willful deafness… “I turned my collar to the cold and damp” … and about the capacity for self-realization that can pierce it “when my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light” … along with some of the themes of communication that others have mentioned. It’s a song that offers something different to me depending on my mood or emotional state every time I listen to it…truly one of the greatest songs.

  9. Paul Simon just wrote perfect songs. Another like this is My Little Town. You can see how deeply he feels his lyrics. Since that song, I have had a love affair with Ted Hughes’ poetry, and when you read that, you can see the depths songs like Sounds of Silence come from.
    Interestingly, in the “old days”, a friend of mine used to go to a camera club, where they were given tasks from time to time to put together a slide show (remember those things!) to illustrate a song, and one of the best he said was “Sounds of Silence”.

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