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The Sound Of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel

Album: Wednesday Morning, 3 AMReleased: 1966Charted:
1
  • The first recording was an acoustic version on Simon & Garfunkel's first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, which was billed as "exciting new sounds in the folk tradition," and sold about 2000 copies. When the album tanked, Simon and Garfunkel split up. What they didn't know was that their record company had a plan. Trying to take advantage of the folk-rock movement, Columbia Records had producer Tom Wilson add electric instruments to the acoustic track. Simon and Garfunkel had no idea their acoustic song had been overdubbed with electric instruments, but it became a huge hit and got them back together. If Wilson had not reworked the song without their knowledge, Simon and Garfunkel probably would have gone their separate ways. When the song hit #1 in the States, Simon was in England and Garfunkel was at college.
  • Paul Simon was looking for a publishing deal when he presented this song to Tom Wilson at Columbia Records. Wilson thought it could work for a group called The Pilgrims, but Simon wanted to show him how it could work with two singers, so he and and Art Garfunkel sang it to the guys at Columbia Records, who were impressed with the duo and decided to sign them.
  • Paul Simon took six months to write the lyrics, which are about man's lack of communication with his fellow man. He averaged one line a day.
  • In an interview with Terry Gross of National Public Radio (NPR), Paul Simon explained how he wrote the song while working at his first job in music: "It was just when I was coming out of college. My job was to take the songs that this huge publishing company owned and go around to record companies and see if any of their artists wanted to record the songs. I worked for them for about six months and never got a song placed, but I did give them a couple of my songs because I felt so guilty about taking their money. Then I got into an argument with them and said, 'Look, I quit, and I'm not giving you my new song.' And the song that I had just written was 'The Sound Of Silence.' I thought, 'I'll just publish it myself,' and from that point on I owned my own songs, so that was a lucky argument.

    I think about songs that it's not just what the words say but what the melody says and what the sound says. My thinking is that if you don't have the right melody, it really doesn't matter what you have to say, people don't hear it. They only are available to hear when the sound entrances and makes people open to the thought. Really the key to 'The Sound Of Silence' is the simplicity of the melody and the words, which are youthful alienation. It's a young lyric, but not bad for a 21-year-old. It's not a sophisticated thought, but a thought that I gathered from some college reading material or something. It wasn't something that I was experiencing at some deep, profound level - nobody's listening to me, nobody's listening to anyone - it was a post-adolescent angst, but it had some level of truth to it and it resonated with millions of people. Largely because it had a simple and singable melody."
  • This was one of the songs Simon & Garfunkel performed in 1964 when they were starting out and playing the folk clubs in Greenwich Village. It was their first hit.
  • Paul Simon was often compared to Bob Dylan, who was also signed to Columbia Records, and while Simon has acknowledged Dylan's influence on "The Sound Of Silence," he was never trying to measure up to Dylan. Simon told Mojo in 2000: "I tried very hard not to be influenced by him, and that was hard. 'The Sound Of Silence', which I wrote when I was 21, I never would have wrote it were it not for Bob Dylan. Never, he was the first guy to come along in a serious way that wasn't a teen language song. I saw him as a major guy whose work I didn't want to imitate in the least."

    There is a Dylan connection on this song: The electric version was produced by Tom Wilson and finished by Bob Johnston, and both men had worked with Dylan. Wilson was Dylan's producer for about two years starting in 1963, and helped Dylan make the transition from acoustic folk to electric rock. Wilson went on to work with The Velvet Underground and later became a record company executive. Johnston was Dylan's producer until 1970.
  • 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. (thanks, Stefan - winona, MS)
  • Simon & Garfunkel did not write this about the Vietnam War, but by the time it became popular, the war was on and many people felt it made a powerful statement as an anti-war song.
  • In the US, this hit #1 on New Year's Day, 1966.
  • The opening line, "Hello darkness, my old friend," came from Simon's time as a boy when he would sing in the bathroom with the lights out, enjoying the acoustics from the tiles that provided a doo-wop reverb sound.
  • On February 23, 2003, Simon and Garfunkel reunited for the first time in 10 years to accept a lifetime achievement award and perform this at the opening of The Grammys. At the time, the US was preparing to invade Iraq, and while this could be heard as a political statement, Simon said it wasn't. He explained that they wanted to play this because it was their first hit.
  • At the Grammy Awards in 1967, Simon & Garfunkel were introduced by Dustin Hoffman, who made a name for himself when he starred in The Graduate. There was no host at The Grammys that year, so Hoffman was the first person seen when the show opened.
  • Despite its great popularity, Blender magazine voted this the 42nd worst song ever, remarking sardonically that "If Frasier Crane were a song, he would sound like this." The magazine's editor, Craig Marks, defended Blender's decision to include this much-loved song on their list, stating: "It's the freshman-poetry meaningfulness that got our goat, with self-important lyrics like 'hear my words that I might teach you', it's almost a parody of pretentious '60s folk-rock." The brief article on the song corresponding with this called the "hear my words" line "the most self-important... in rock history," and elaborated on Mark's remarks with: "Simon and Garfunkel thunder away in voices that suggest they're scowling and wagging their fingers as they sing. The overall experience is like being lectured on the meaning of life by a jumped-up freshman."
  • The band Gregorian covered this on their album Masters of Chant - as Gregorian chant. Nevermore also covered it on the album Dead Heart In A Dead World, and the German band Atrocity covered it on their 2000 album Gemini. As for their version's quality: Many people feel the band name was appropriate. (thanks, Brett - Edmonton, Canada, for above 2)
  • This was used in the movie Old School in a scene where Will Ferrell falls into a pool. (thanks, Joel Riley - Berkley, MI)
  • The Bachelors, a three-piece vocal group from Ireland, recorded this in 1966 and hit #3 in the UK with their version. Simon & Garfunkel's version was not released as a single in England. (thanks, Phil - Bolton, England)
  • This song was parodied on The Simpsons in the fifth season episode "Lady Bouvier's Lover." The whole episode is very similar to The Graduate, and The Simpsons version plays over the end credits, after Grandpa and Mrs. Bouvier have left the church much as Benjamin and Elaine do in the movie. (thanks, Judah - San Francisco, CA)
  • Paul Simon didn't always enjoy performing his older songs, as he had a hard time making connections to songs he had written decades earlier. This was a source of contention for the duo, since Art Garfunkel felt that many of their popular songs were still relevant, and their audience wanted to hear them. He explained in a 1993 interview with Paul Zollo: "I want 'The Sound Of Silence' to get angry at the end as if it's timeless. The impoverished are screaming, 'F--k this unfair system,' just like they've always screamed it. It's a timeless thing. It lives, if you can make it live, onstage tonight like it did when it was written in '64."
  • There has been only one cover version of this song to make the US Hot 100: a 1971 release by Peaches & Herb that made #100. Some other notable covers are an extended Metal version by Nevermore on their 2000 album Dead Heart in a Dead World, and a 1996 rendition by the Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini.
  • Simon & Garfunkel performed this at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit in 1993 with Eddie Van Halen backing them on guitar.
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Comments: 97

On November 22nd 1957, Tom and Jerry performed "Hey, Little Schoolgirl" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
Sixteen days later on December 8th, 1957 the record entered Billboard's Top 100 chart at position #79; it stayed on the chart for 9 weeks, peaking at #49...
The duo, using their birth names of Simon & Garfunkel, would next enter the Top 100 just under eight years later on November 14th, 1965 when "The Sound of Silence" entered the chart at position #80; and then went on to become the first of their three #1 records.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Enjoyed your comments on the song, Gary. Well thought out.Rod - Boise, Id
Hi Kimberly from New Jersey. Wonderful to hear from you. Mike.Mike - Franklin, Oh
Now let's see if I can get this straight; on December 26th 1965, "The Sounds of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel peaked at #1.
After one week at #1 it was replaced by "We Can Work It Out" by the Beatles for two weeks...
Then S&G regained the top spot for another week, and I guess the Fab Four didn't care for that, so they took back the #1 position for one more week and knocked S&G right out of the Top 10, all the way down to #12...
R.I.P. John and George.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Not in Harms way but truly. . . a Sign Of Times. A reason to understand.Kimberly - Landing, Nj
Words of the profits are shown on the subway walls. Near and far, never ending. time and time again. People Please, Be Aware .. Life Repeats itself. PEACE.Kimberly - Landing, Nj
All these comments I am surprised no one mentioned the two titles Sound of Silence and Sounds of Silence. Very subtle, but I always preferred Sounds of Silence over "Sound" because it suggested multiple ideas. It appears as "Sounds of Silence" on the LP with the same name and on some 45s. It's a beautiful, haunting melody with great harmonies. So regardless how some get bent out of shape on the suggested lyrical meanings, all I have to hear is "Hello darkness my old friend" and I am already captivated and can easily apply that line to my life.Margret Hamilton - St. Paul, Mn
10,000. is the vision of our future. sad to say but seems to be true. GOD BLESS AMERICA. PRAY..... The best possible solution of our times. Thank You, KimberlyKimberly - Landing, Nj
silence is a sound of millions, sad to say but true, history repeats. God Bless Us All.Kimberly - Landing, Nj
"People talking without speaking" has a beautiful meaning and this is pertinent to the present ongoing in this world. People now can make a gesture or manner to let others know what he or she is thinking without speaking out a single word. Even on a stage where a famous singer performs his or her show, he or she need not to speak a word but can call a great scream from an audience just making some body gestures eg. nodding, smiling or making some weird movings etc. In this real world, we are now communicating to each other through "talking without speaking". Because the world is now so hustle that we have no time to speak but we have to talk by other means.Thyrocyte - Bangkok, Thailand
Paul Simon performed this song solo at the NYC Memorial Ceremonies for the 9/11 victims on 9/11/2011.Miles - Washington Dc, United States
Paul Simon sang this on 9/11/11 at Ground Zero in New York, it seemed most fitting to me...the lyrics apply in so many ways!Bev - Tampa, Fl
Why can't people just accept the writers reason for this song? As the late great John Lennon said when he thought he might be summons to trstify the meaning of Helter skelter during the Manson trail. " Not all of my songs have meaning or purpose to them, it's just how I may feel on a certain day or a melody that's in head."Billy - Foley, Al
Its too bad Blender chose the negative interpretation of 'hear my words that I might teach you', as being self important...i think the song speaks to us as a group who do not speak up against the mainstream, who hear but don't listen to each other....i interpret it as hear our words (speak up) so that we might teach each other....feel our arms so that we may reach each other...Darlene - Duluth, Mn
As someone said earlier Simon got some inspiration from reading material at college. So as i give my interpretation of the lyrics i dont know whether Simon was'consciously aware' at the age of 21 but not many at that age are. And as well as the reading material that influenced him there was the teenage angst. Well teenagers who feel like that in my opinion know there is something wrong inside of them and some of the anger comes from not knowing why they feel that way. However they are young enough not to have been subjected to decades of brainwashing, mind control, falsehoods or any of the other negative stuff one cares to mention to the point where they dont yet accept everything they are being told, hence the angst. In other words they are somewhat spiritually alive without quite realising it. So thats my explanation as to the depth of the lyrics from someone so young. In 1964 the world wasn't as full with technology as it is now so any interpretations along those lines i think are more visionary, perhaps from reading, if there is any truth in that.

Sorry i dont want to go into every significant line or i will be here for ages but 'stabbed by a flash of neon light' (which touched the (his) sound of silence) to me means something along the lines of 'waking up to the truth' , some kind of spiritual awakening or realisation. I believe this to be the case because i have had the same kind of experience and later in the song it does say where some of the real truth can be found, i.e. on the subways in the words of prophets (today could say You Tube or anywhere else where truth or prophecies can be found.) Certainly newspapers for example dont see it as there role to make us spiritually aware. As someone said earlier, politicians and media etc dont always deal with the truth. And by the way, sorry to preach but when we listen to the news for example the only thing we know is what we are being told, doesnt make it true. And essentially i see this song generally conveying a message truth.

In 1964, there wasnt mobile texting and net chatting going on so i doubt that 'talking without speaking' refers to this. Could be various meanings but i would go with something along the lines of people talking but not speaking up about what matters but preferring to remain silent. Martin Luther King said we will not remember the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.

So for me this song is about someone who has found truth, come to some kind of self awareness, truer perception of reality or something like that but at the same time he sees that most people are not singing from that hymnsheet. I am not saying that all this comes from Simon himself, just that there is some influence there and certainly a truer perception of reality than what he sees around him. A further message in the song could be, 'wake up people' in the ten thousand people verse. he hears songs with great truth in them but he doesnt see these words being shared by the people with a voice. If this idea came from Simon at 21 good on him, and i would say that young people do find resonance in the words of their favourite songs rather than their leaders.

By the way, I am a prophet.
Gary - Leeds, United Kingdom
This song is one of my all time greats! I love it is an all time classic and regardless of what critics may say or believe the song is already written and sung. The melody demands listening, the lyrics: vocally strong.
I being a poet in my own rights I could see the pensiveness of the writer's thoughts. He uses strong sentences to capture our attention and imagination which to me is like an unfolding parable and considering certain words and phrases used in the song it bears down heavily on our social decay as witnessed in every nation across the world.

Whenever I hear this song I get good reminders of the the way we live and carry out our daily lives. Just as one would get a panoramic view from a mountain top, this song: The Sound Of Silence in a pensive manner opens up and penetrates the hearts and minds of listeners thereby giving us a broader scope things that happens around us.
Failure to communicate with each other is the shaping of a destructive end and remaining silent on burning and troubling issues is equally destructive, dangerous and weighty as the title of the song itself: "THE SOUND OF SILENCE" This is my honest comment on this song.

Thank you! Peter Belfon from the Tri-Island State of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique in the West Indies.
Peter Belfon - St. George, Grenada
Prophetic vision of the coming Messiah. notice words , seeds, planting, halo,prophets, darkness( evil) the silence is mans ignorance to his teaching of mercy and love. God's can only be heard in the sound of silence but people do not want to hear. People talking without speaking (speaking words that are meaningless. S&G were only the messengers.The Voice - Phila, Pa
Everybody has freedom to interprete this song freely according to background and belief.There is no obligation that the audience must follows only Garfunkel's idea or the composer's opinion.The opinion of Garfunkel is just from his point of view and has no authorization to force others to think in his way.

By the way, I have put another version of my comment in Thai RJD room on topic P10140536. If any of you are interested in seeing this, please check it out there.
Jampoon - Bangkok, Thailand
In the intro, Art Garfunkel tells us that this song is about people's inability to communicate with one another. But another subtext is that modern society, "And the Neon gods they made", promotes a kind of mass alienation both from society "and thie sign flashed out its warning" and from each each other "people talking without speaking...". So amidst the noise of bustle of modern society, the author seeks the clarity (sound) of contemplation (silence).Dan - Telzstone, Israel
In 1971 Peaches and Herb covered this song; their version peaked at No. 100 and stayed in the Top 100 for two weeks!!!Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
An awesome song. This is my second favorite song by them only second to I Am a Rock. I agree with Victor, Vienna, VA it is one of the top 10 best songs ever, it speaks to you.Breanna - Henderson, Nv
Artists, authors, and poets are creators and often speak with the voice of God. Just because the author is unaware of a meaning in his work does not mean that the work is meaningless.Synchronic - Topeka, Ks
Was just re-reading HESSE's Steppenwolf novel after 15 years. And strangely found myself thinking as I was reading, "this is the setting of the song THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE". Then I googled this site. Wierd.

Example #1 on Page 29 (of OWL's 1990 Steppenwolf reprint): Hesse's main character (Harry Haller) is walking alone at night in the rain. He writes:

"I trod the moist pavements of the narrow streets. As though in tears and veiled, the lamps glimmered through the chill gloom and sucked their reflections slowly from the wet ground."

Simon: "On restless streets I walked alone, Narrow streets of cobbled-stone; 'Neath the halo of an old street lamp."

Example #2 (on Page 37):
"I loitered as I wended my way homeward; turned up my collar and struck my stick on the wet pavement".

Simon: "I turned my collar to the cold and damp"

There's more too. During this night time walk, Hesse's character discovers a strange sign in the darkest of alleyways - a decidedly ELECTRIC SIGN... The NEON LIGHT in Simon's song - Only in the novel Hesse's sign says: "MAGIC THEATRE; ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYBODY; FOR MADMEN ONLY!"

Love the song. And rewarding to find the parallel in literature-- and probably just one of several books Simon's refers to in his NPR interview about this song.
Duff - Calgary, Ab
In an interview about his early years, Paul said that he used to sit in an empty closet with his guitar, totally dark, to try and create his best work. He never directly stated it, but the opening lines "Hello, darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you again..." sound like the sort of thing one would come up with casually. And from there, perhaps he built the rest. not to belittle any of this great song, just a thought.Tom - Boston, Ma
the classic recording of this song is magicalThom - New Orleans, La
I would like to say to the craker head who posted the comment(I don't know where some of you got your "theories" from but if you said anything other than it's about teenage angst or frustration you're wrong wrong wrong!) that he/she who ever they are needs to relocate the boot from their mouth and think for a second before (s)he begins to speak. First off, how hypocritical of you to first say that everyone and their brother is "wrong wrong wrong!" about what they think the song means and tell them to put "this is what meaning i got from it", but not anywhere state that this is your own opinion but fact. Considering that your so called "fact" that it couldn't possibly be about the Kennedy assassination (which you spelled wrong by the way) because Simon wrote the song in 1963 and didnt publish it until 1964. Now PLEASE tell me how in the world did you come up with that? Kennedy died on November 22, 1963... Whats that?! 1963?! The same year that Simon started writing the song?! What a concept! And where did Bipolar come from! YOU need to do your research. NONE of his biography's say that he had EVER been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. And where do you come from by saying that the person who wrote the comment was?! Do you even know what Bipolar disorder is? DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU TELL OTHERS TO DO THEIRS!!!! For pity sake.John - Here Nor There, Ky
I don't know where some of you got your "theories" from but if you said anything other than it's about teenage angst or frustration you're wrong wrong wrong! Sorry, but you are. It's VERY EASY to look up the meaning by the songwriter Paul Simon. Just GOOGLE it if you have to but Please get you're facts straight before you stick your foot it in. What you should've said was "this is what meaning I got from it" instead of claiming your belief as fact. You make yourself appear lazy & ignorant. when I first heard this song I drew all kinds of deep meaning, emotions & symbolism from it's words. But that doesn't mean it's what the author intended. So get off your high horses and stop giving out bad info. Incidently, Simon wrote this song in 1963 it didn't get published until 1964 so it couldn't possibly be about KENNEDY'S ASSASINATION, another said it was about his struggle with Bi-polar! Seriously? are you BiPolar? Because the word Bipolar wasn't around when Simon was 21 & he wasn't diagnosed with it until his 40's - again check the facts. And the Heroin one is the funniest. He probably thought that because HE was on heroin when he first heard the song. That one is just silly and I'd sooner believe the Kennedy assasination theory!!!Pippin - Elk Grove, Ca
This song also features in the movie watchmen (a movie based on the graphic novel watchmen by alan moore). love the song!Aditi - Mumbai, India
The emperor is naked. This song doesn't mean squat. The very fact that nobody can agree on what it means proves it. You can come up with what some of the lines or phrases mean, but nobody has yet come up with a consistent, meaningful interpretation that takes into account all the lines. I agree with Simon's on self-appraisal: it's just teenage angst. Big deal.

The music is pretty, though.
Rich - Bellevue, Wa
The song also plays in Bobby, the movie about the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. It's the only sound over the video of everybody rushing around after Bobby is shot. Great film, and a great spot for the song.Charles - Boyne City, Mi
gary w. jansen, new canaan, it was "Silent Night" that S&G recorded over the evening news. Easy to see why you got them mixed up.Guy - Woodinville, Wa
The meaning of "people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening", I think, is that they communicate with each other through their hearts.Marian - Shanghai, China
Does anyone remember when the evening news was recorded over the Sound of Silence? How can I get hold of that recording...very moving. Gary, New Canaan, Ct.Gary W. Jansen - New Canaan,
The sound of silence is the contented quiet of the devil, upon recept of all his souls. . .

The first line is actually:

"Hell! (Oh, Darkness!) My old friend!
Cyberpope - Richmond, Canada
The lyrics ask the Zen question - What is the sound of silence?Thomas - Perth, Australia
People! You have completely missed the meaning of the song!! "Hello darkness my old friend" refers to his plight with bipolar and he has stated this on numerous occassions. It has NOTHING to do with Hesse, or the Kennedy assination,or social injustice,or drugs, etc. Read any biography on him and you will know this!!Dick - Chicago, Il
Regarding the line "Neon Gods". In the Book of Daniel (5:1-30) King Belshazzar and his entourage worship idols and a hand wrote a message on the wall telling the king of his fate.Jon - Cambridge, United Kingdom
to a lot of people who posted here (and to Blender too.. -_-): the line "Hear my words that I might teach you" IS NOT Simon itself speaking.. How could you just come to think such a nonsense..? Didn't you notice that it's a DIRECT SPEECH done by the "narrator" (who is not necessarily Simon.. usually is undefined..) IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DREAM TOLD BY THE SONG?? So, it IS NOT Simon saying to "all the world" or to the listeners that "they should hear his words because he can teach them something", BUT is the narrator who, in his vision/dream, is dreaming to see those "ten thousand people" and to try to tell (yell at) those people (who don't talk, but are affected by the "silence") that silence is a nefarious thing, that they should talk each other (because the narrator himself want to talk with them) and that IF THEY WANT, he MIGHT (that to me is a clear signal of humility) teach them how to talk each other.Alessandro - Besnate, Italy
"To me, Paul Simon is the most pompous and self-important songwriter of all. - MusicMama, New York, NY"

people are entitled to their opinions, MusicMama but not every INSPIRATIONAL SONGWRITING GENIOUS is going to be nice and humble, Paul Simon can be arrogant until pigs fly for all I care, There is nothing more refreshing than his use of words and phrases and melody that IMO have never been matched to this day. He fascinates me!
Susan - Westchestertonfieldville, Va
Jeff from Windsor, Canada...you just stuck your foot in your mouth and sounded like a moron! Check your facts before you speak or shall i say type! doofus!Susan - Westchestertonfieldville, Va
i love the interpretation which says this song is about mans inability to relate to his fellow manJason - Dublin, Ireland
Fabulous song!!! It's one of Simon And Garfunkel's best!!!Farrah - Elon, Nc
There is a lot of attention paid to the significance of the "neon God they'd made" - mostly within the confines of technology - did we get it right? - of course, that was a "gimme" but the significance of it is also in part a reference to the golden calf - to idoltry. I am not religious in the least respect, but I feel you only get half the message by focusing solely on the technological aspect.

The portion I am more interested in is
"the writing of the prophets is written on the subway walls and tenement halls"
which seems to be a statement that decency and honesty is rarely if ever presented through our PR and Politically Correct obsessive media - lying politicians, advertisements, slanted journalism, etc. The sentiments of the "everyman" to or perhaps the proletariat are of greater value because they lack the ulterior motive of t.v. anchormans and such - further, they are not as removed. prophets have almost as a tradition not sat in the seats of statesmen. the words are ignored, however well written insightful or prophetic, by your average passerby. that the song is in part about the difficulty of communication or at least meaningful communication among mankind is no surprise to me (though I believe there may be more to it).

I also feel that as there is a great deal of biblical symbolism that their supposed feux pas of saying "hear my words that I might teach you" was in part an allusion to prophetic teachings - presumptuous or not it is hard to say, though i would not fault them for that any more than i would fault nietzche for writing thus spake zarathustra in imitation of the biblical style - - - IT WAS FOR ARTISTIC AFFECT!!! (further it is such a minute detail in such a beautiful song, perhaps written only for the sake of preserving the meter and rhyme - which are terrible constraints on poets who prefer these more traditional forms - that i do not mind over looking their presumptuousness) f**** blender

i really do have to look into the hesse connection; i haven't read his works though i've meant to for some time.
Conrad - Alexandria, Va
I HATE Blender magazine. They always put great artists and songs on their "worst" lists when they named that mentally challenged frog Eminem as one of the most innovative artists of our time. Blender SUCKS.Sally - South Orange, Nj
I agree, probably one of the top ten best songs ever. Who would ever rate it one of the worst? The lyrics alone pull you into the song which is what any timeless song should do. And the song fit perfectly for The Graduate.Elizabeth - Roanoke, Va
"Hear my words that I might teach you." Who did these guys think they were? To me, Paul Simon is the most pompous and self-important songwriter of all. He ain't Bob Marley, or for that matter, Bob Dylan. And this song is "Exhibit A."Musicmama - New York, Ny
The lyrics in this song are really good, can't believe any magazine would dare rate it as their worst song (anyone got a copy of Blender that I can use as toilet paper ;) )

Listening to this song it makes me think of autism, I'm slightly autistic (Asperger's) and it makes me think of how it is when I'm wandering round in crowds of thousands of people, I went on an international gathering recently of 40,000 people and at night everyone was stood around talking but I couldn't seem to do that as there was too many people, this reminds me of the following lines in the song

Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
Darren - Warrington, England
Once yoy her that song, you can't get ri of the tune. It is a masterpiece.Pierre - Chelsea, Quebec, Canada
OMG!!! So glad someone else hit on the Hesse connection! I noticed that a few years ago but couldn't find mention of it anywhere online.Individual - Boston, Ma
Once again the song facts are wrong. The Sounds of Silence was not their first hit, "Hey School Girl" was their first major hit. But is often forgotten because they went under their stage names of Tom and Jerry.Daniel - Staten Island, Ny
The Sound of Silence has been one of my favorite songs since I was a boy. The tune and words always seemed to touch me deep inside and I felt there was a profound meaning to it that I was unable to grasp.


I now think that the song may be truly prophetic and may have deeper truth and insight than Paul Simon ever intended.

The song today makes a lot of sense to me when I see the changes taking place in our world on all levels.

The interpretation is rather obvious if you think of todays society and look at the symbolic cues in the song. The Neon God for instance seems to me to obviously mean technology. People have come to depend on and worship technology in a sense... placing it as more important that anything else... making it a god.

People in todays world spend hours text messaging on cell phones or chatting on the Internet.. talking without speaking.. hearing without listening.

Natural communication within families is at an all time low. Instead of having family time and talking with one another people spend countless hours in unnatural worship of technology instead.

People blindly believe what they are told without thinking for themselves independently. They watch movies, listen to what is said in the media and are shaped into viewing the world the way the powers behind the media and entertainment industry want them to view it.

When the sign flashes out its warning in the words that it was forming, I believe this is the warning that even the main stream corporate sponsored media is starting to give about what the ultimate effects of our technology worship is going to be.

People love the conveniences technology provides but don't want to hear about its consequences. So we can have our dazzling technological gadgets glowing with neon lights (computer monitors, HDTVs, Cellphone displays etc.) the earth is literally being destroyed and is dying.

The manufacture of printed circuit boards releases millions of tons of poisons, the cars we drive and electricity we use is causing co2 levels to rise at unprecedented rates never before seen. The earths climate is visibly and noticeably changing worsening each year and becoming more inhospitable.

But .. the people seeing the sign flash out its warning day after day (Daily news broadcasts by mainstream corporate controlled media warning of what is to come) mostly ignore it and go about their daily business concerned only with their next HDTV and gas guzzling SUV. Their response to what they are indirectly doing and are responsible for is silence.

The sign says the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls .. seems obvious to me now too. When you go to a subway you see among other things a lot of dire warnings by cranks about the world going to end and so forth. Well ... the sign (the media) is beginning to form the words that those cranks were right.. and the world really is ending .. The people who put all those dire warnings on the walls of subways that everyone laughed off were prophets after all.
Steve - Saint Joseph, Mo
This is probably one one the most beautiful songs i have ever heard. I have never understood exactly what it meant but i have made my opinions. something about Simon and Garfunkel intrigues me. For a 16 year old, i think i have a very good perception of music and this song has got to be one of my favorites.Alyssa - Boynton, Fl
Blender sucks, pass it on...Tom - Hershey, Pa
Is Blender still in business?? Does Craig Marks still have a job?? I thought you had to have a good feel for songs to work in the music business. What an unhip moran! There is a reason the song is so popular a-hole. So what if you don't like a few words. Look at the whole song dip stick and get off the acid.Tom - Hershey, Pa
Given that Paul Simon wrote "The Sound of Silence" in response to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, as Dustin has pointed out, doesn't it seem likely that the song is in no small part about the failure the truth about what really happened that day? It can certainly be heard as being about the a kind of self-reinforcing, unspoken "conspiracy of silence" in American society at large that is driven by fear of speaking the truth about profoundly unsettling issues and questions, questions that go to directly to what kind of society we now live in and where power resides. Most of us who see it are afraid to talk about it, particularly in academic and professional settings where our careers may suffer damage from our talking about such things too much. It's about some very big elephants in our collective American living room that we can't bring ourselves face up to as a nation. It is easier for many of us to believe that there has to be a good reason for this silence. Otherwise, we have to look at some very uncomfortable realities and possibilities. To recognize this is almost inevitably to experience intense alienation. Within that alienation, it becomes possible to see clearly a general pattern of silence and fear to communicate with each other, directly and in the public sphere, about uncomfortable truths of great moment. That's how I hear it, anyway.Patrick - Portland, Or
To Max from Perth:

My pereception of " My eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light" is the incoming of technology, namely televeision.

"And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made" simply describes the people's reaction to television: obssession. Everyone was so obssessed with technology that they were all buried inside their own worlds, and they did not bother to communicate with others, hence "buried in the wells of silence".

Overall, this song is warning us about the dangers of non-communicating, and the danger of being sucked into the technological world
Brendan - Singapore, Singapore
it hurts, i mean while listen to the song. the sound of silence is very deep. perhaps no one can understand all the meanings in it, maybe including Paul Simon himself...Bob - Zhuhai, China
stupid blender magazine makes a mistake and now shall pay all the rok fans unite and distroy
yea whatever great song a classic
Elie - The U.k, England
I meant to say they "know" nothing about music.Nathan - Defiance, Oh
The fact Blender Magazine named this one of the worst songs ever shows they nothing about music.Nathan - Defiance, Oh
i would defenitely say that this is one of the classics in world music, a pretty neat piece of song!Sam - Beirut, Other
The Reverse Engineers did an interesting alternative-rock cover of this in 2004. This song has a lot of meaning, though. One thing that's interesting about it is that Rush's "The Spirit of Radio" has the lyrics, "For the words of the profits were written on the studio wall." This song's lyrics? "And the sign said, The words of the prophets / Are written on the subway walls..."Joe Public - Anytown, Al
This sound was originally written in response the the assassination of John F. Kennedy. "When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light, that split the night, and split the sound of silence" refers to the gunshot that "split the sound of silence" and struck Kennedy. "And in the naked light I saw, 10,000 people maybe more" is a reference to his funeral. Going through the rest of the song you can see all the different references to the Kennedy assassination, and the sorrow everyone shared as they all mourned in silence.Dustin - Overland Park, Ks
This is one of my favorite songs, but I can't find any information about the guitarist who played electric guitar parts which were added by Producer Bob Johnson in 1966. Can someone please help me out? Thanks.Maciek - Warsaw, Poland
Seems to be a lot of discussion about the origin of the lyrics to this song. Check out Herman Hesse's "Steppenwolf". Early in the novel is a description of the streets of Munich (I think) as seen through the eyes of the main character. The lyrics are copped from this, at times almost verbatim.Mitty - Tucson, Az
Oh this is NOT a song about heroin! Where did you come up with that? Lovely song by the way.Riley - Naval Reserve, Sc
The "Darkness" is referred to in thousands of rock songs. It has nothing to do with a bathroom (unless he shot up in the bathroom too) This song is about heroin. It's his old friend and he's come to talk to him again. The streets of Cobblestone is in reference to the same stone that Bob Dylan, Guns n Roses, and even Dave Matthews refer to. The Light that they bow to is the same light that the Eagles, Eric Clapton and even Collective Soul refer to. This is Rock and Roll 101.

Paul Simon loves drug metaphors. "As if anyone knows what I'm talking about"
Joe - Charlotte, Nc
When he's on the street, he turns and a Neon sign blinds his vision in which he goes into a dream world, on a literal sense. The Neon light represents society and technology today, and that should be taken into definate consideration. The people bowing and praying to this neon light is a simple reference to conformity: people following society.Fevrier - Comox/courtneay, Canada
what does it mean in the song where he talking about "When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of
A neon light" and also "In the wells of silence
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made." thx
Max - Perth, Australia
is it just me, or does the electric guitar in this song sound out of tune?Jordan - Wv
According to my dad, when this song first came out on the radio, the drums were too loud and you couldn't hear the lyrics very well, so they went back and re-recorded it. He says he still remembers it with the drums louder and liked it better that way. After what I've read in various different places, I think he's mistaken, and that he heard the version after the electric instruments were added and then every time after that he just heard the aucostic version. He was talking about this when it was on the radio in the car, and that was when I heard it for the first time. Unfortunately, I can't remember what it sounded like compared to the version with the electric instruments. Anyone know anything to support/deny my dad's idea?Katie - Somewhere, Nj
This song is a classic. It's amazing. I'm not sure why they had to play it three times in The Graduate, though.Aylin - Montreal, Canada
What a great song. I've realized it's about lonliness, lack of communication, and social breakdown, all of which have come to be very important in my life today.Bill - Erie, Pa
You are 100% right, Nikki from VA. This song is called The Sound of Silence. I was there in the 60's and I have the original vinyl LP on which it first appeared.Eloise - London, England
who cares if it was on old school, really great song and great lyrics.Amir - Toronto, Canada
Listening to the song after reading T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" brings a new perspective to the song's meaning. In other words, just as Simon lifted the theme (to the point of near plagiarism) of Edmund Arlington Robinson's "Richard Cory," I wonder if he did not lift the imagery Eliot's "The Hollow Men" in the Sound of Silence."Zachariah - Detroit, Mi
Blender is like a few other music magazines most notably NME (at least in the UK not sure if thier are international versions) they will say things just to be different even if they can only come up with a ridiculous argumentDave - Eastbourne, England
According to my CD, the song is titled 'The Sound of Silence'Nikki - Remington, Va
This is #156 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.Ross - Independence, Mo
Also, this song talks about diverse cultures shunning each other away.Lance - Spring Hill, Fl
This song actually had an extra, if not totally different verse. I don't know the lyrics, but it was sung by S & G on their Old Friends Tour DVD...Lance - Spring Hill, Fl
Rush borrowed some of the lyrics in Spirit of the Radio (words of the prophets are written on the studio walls ,etc.). A great song that perfectly captures desolation.John - Levittown, Ny
I don't understand how this song was ranked one of the worst songs ever written. The lyrics are insightful and the song is intelligent.Kieran - D.c., Va
This is one of the most profound and weighty songs to ever hit the airways. Paul Simon had the amazing ability to write music that not only sounded good, but that also had lyrical substance, Sounds of Silence is no exception. The overarking theme of the destruction and hopelessness of materialism and modernism is incredibly true.Clay - Chatsworth, Ca
the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, tenement halls refers to grafittiLisa - Detroit, Mi
What's the line "And the sign said the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls" a reference to?Jake - Toronto, Canada
i love this song... it's got great lyricsNicola - Perth, Australia
It was in deed in old school. It's played when Will Ferrel falls into the pool at max's birthday party.Steve - Medford , Nj
This song is about lonliness, infact it's a metafor for the writer's condition of lonliness and isolation in a modern city.In the first line there is a welcome to the darkness as it is the only friend in a world of isolated individuals. Too true even today - dear Paul and Simon nothing has changed!Tina - Cardiff, Wales
I think this is a very good song. It is a classic.John - Stephenville Crossing, Canada
The line "hello darkness my old friend" was written by Paul Simon because he used to go into the bathroom where it was dark to come up with song lyrics.Denise - Santa Clarita, Ca
Eh, the people at Blender are just so stupid sometimes. They just want to make statements half the time.Jen - Boulder, Co
Yeah, i'ts definitely in Old School, as well as the Woody Harrelson film KingpinChad - Orlando, Fl
this song was not played in that movie "old school", the song was actully "dust in the wind", by Kansas.Jeff - Windsor, Canada
one of the top ten best songs everVictor - Vienna, Va
This song was also used in the movie "Old School." It plays when Will Ferrell falls into the pool after shooting himself with the tranquilizer gun.Steven - Independence, Ky
sounds of silence is one of the greatest songs ever written, and the graduate was a great film. the song is timeless, everyone can understand it.Rachel - Upper Darby, Pa