The Meaning of Sound of Silence: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the meaning of sound of silence? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the term sound of silence, including its meaning, history, and more!

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What does sound of silence mean?

According to Song Facts, the term sound of silence is a reference to the 1964 song “The Sound of Silence” written by 21-year-old Paul Simon. This song was released by Simon and Garfunkel – the band formed by duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel – in 1966 on their debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 AM. This was the group’s first album. The song hit #1 in the United States when Simon was in England and Garfunkel was in college. Simon initially presented the song to producer Tom Wilson at Columbia Records for The Pilgrims, but Wilson was so impressed by him and Garfunkel’s performance that he signed them instead. He placed electric guitars and drums on the track along with other electric instruments. The song was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending January 1, 1966.

Simon, according to LinkedIn and Psychiatric Times, states that the song is about the inability of people to communicate with each other emotionally, but not necessarily intentionally. It is about people who are unable to love each other. Paul Simon took six months to write the lyrics to the song. This song was considered the group’s first hit, and they would frequently perform it in folk clubs in Greenwich Village. Simon was often compared to Bob Dylan. Simon and Garfunkel performed a famous free concert in Central Park to a crowd of over 500,000 people upon their reunion in 1981.

The folk rock song was one of many featured in the film The Graduate. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, the entirety of the soundtrack to his film is made up of Simon & Garfunkel songs. Songs included are two different versions of The Sound of Silence, Mrs. Robinson, Scarborough Fair/Canticle, April Come She Will, and The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine. Instrumentals for the film were composed by Dave Grusin. IMDb states that The Graduate was released in late December 1967. The film stars Dustine Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, and Katharine Ross. It was directed by Mike Nichole and written by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry, and follows a disillusioned college grad who finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter.

The lyrics to “The Sound of Silence” are below, from Paul Simon. The first line of the first stanza is a reference to Simon’s habit of recording songs in the dark bathroom in his parents’ home.

 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

 No one dare

 Disturb the sound of silence

 “Fools” said I, “You do not know

 Silence like a cancer grow

 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 subway walls

 And tenement halls

 And whispered in the sounds of silence”

What is Simon & Garfunkel’s discography?

Simon and Garfunkel are an immensely popular folk rock duo. Below is a list of some of their most popular songs, per Independent UK and Rolling Stone.

  •  For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her
  •  Bridge Over Troubled Water
  •  The Boxer
  •  I Am a Rock
  •  Scarborough Fair/Canticle
  •  The Only Living Boy in New York
  •  Mrs. Robinson
  •  Cecilia
  •  America

According to Grammy, Simon and Garfunkel have won seven grammys and been nominated eleven times. Below is a list of the Grammy awards tha duo has won. 

  •  In 2003, Simon & Garfunkel won the Lifetime Achievement Award
  •  In 1975, Simon & Garfunkel were nominated for the Best Pop Vocal Performance by A Duo, Group or Chorus for My Little Town
  •  In 1970, Simon & Garfunkel won Record of the Year and Album of the Year for Bridge Over Troubled Water, and were nominated for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance by A Duo, Group or Chorus for Bridge Over Troubled Water
  •  In 1968, Simon & Garfunkel won Record of the Year and Best Contemporary Pop Performance by a Vocal Duo or Group for Mrs. Robinson, and were nominated for Album of the Year for Bookends.

Overall, sound of silence refers to the song “The Sound of Silence” written by Paul Simon. This song is about youthful alienation and about not being able to connect with others. It is heavily featured in the 1967 film The Graduate starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.

Sources:

  1. The Sound Of Silence – Songs + Lyrics | Paul Simon 
  2. The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel | Song Facts 
  3. Sound of Silence | Psychiatric Times 
  4. The Fascinating Story of “The Sound of Silence” and Disturbed’s Version of It | LinkedIn
  5. The Story of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Graduate’ Soundtrack | Ultimate Classic Rock 
  6. Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft in The Graduate (1967) | IMDb 
  7. Readers’ Poll: The 10 Greatest Simon and Garfunkel Songs | Rolling Stone
  8. The 20 greatest Simon & Garfunkel songs ranked, from ‘America’ to ‘Mrs Robinson’ | The Independent  
  9. Simon And Garfunkel | Artist | Grammy