A few days ago, while listening to the song The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel, it sort of struck me just how damn incredible the lyrics of this song are. Sure, I’ve probably listened to it more times than I can count over the course of my life, but for whatever reason, this realization didn’t hit me until recently.
At first glance, the words of this song could be perceived as a bit confusing. It touches on a lot of deeply emotional concepts and elements, and I would argue that probably everyone has a different interpretation of what exactly this song means, or attempts to communicate, through its lyrics. According to a Wikipedia page, some believe that the song serves as commentary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, though Simon Garfunkel once stated that the meaning of the song can be understood as “the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly internationally but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other.”
Personally, I’m gonna go with Garfunkel’s explanation. Not only because it makes sense to me, but also because it’s his song, and I would think he has a better sense than anyone else.
There is one section of the song that always stands out to me every time I hear it:
“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 dared
Disturb the sound of silence”
This section, in my opinion, 100 per cent correlates with Garfunkel’s explanation of the song’s meaning. It suggests that although we may speak, and listen, and converse with one another, we don’t always pay attention to what is being said within a conversation. To me, this misheard communication can lead to isolation and sadness, and I find the vibe of the song as a whole to be both a bit isolating and sad, if that makes sense.
This song is a literary masterpiece, and I can only hope up and coming generations appreciate the lyrical geniuses Simon and Garfunkel once were.
Image from Wikipedia