Monday, December 28, 2015

Music Monday ~ Silence Disturbed

Hat-tip to Avedon's Sideshow for introducing me to the version of The Sound of Silence below.

I like it! I've always liked the song, written by Paul Simon, over several months between 1963–1964, made famous of course by Simon & Garfunkel. There have been other good covers of it over the years. Versions I remember best are by Irish trio, The Bachelors, who had a hit with it in Britain, and vocal group Gregorian, who sang it with a vaguely Gregorian chant flavour. The song has been used in the soundtracks of several movies, most famously in The Graduate.

This latest version of the song by Disturbed, a heavy metal band from Chicago is, on the face of it, a surprising choice for such a band. But consider again Paul Simon's lyrics and it perhaps ought not to be surprising.

Disturbed manages to better bring out the anger contained in the song, it's an anger currently being more sharply felt by many people. I'd always taken the song to be a fairly gentle rant about a general lack of communication between people. Until I heard Disturbed's version I'd never really "felt" it, but had been carried along by the lovely melody, never thinking too much, or too deeply, about the words. The words, whether Paul Simon realised it at the time or not, have a chameleon-like ability to fit any listener's own pet reasons to rant.

One, from many, interesting sidelights I found while reading Songfact's page on The Sound of Silence - this contribution by "Duff" of Calgary:

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. Weird.

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.

The Lyrics:
"The 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 dared
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 whispered in the sounds of silence."

There's an archived post from 2009, relating to Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel and their astrology here: Simon & Garfunkel - So Similar.


Sonny G said...

I always liked that song. its haunting and lingers long after being played...

very quiet here and dark.. sounds like an day for an early nap or just to lay back and daydream..

mike said...

I like Disturbed version, too...comes into its own uniqueness at the two minute mark as the vocalist kicks it up a notch. Nice instrumentals considering the band is heavy metal, though Wiki quotes lead vocalist, Draiman's description as more hard rock. Their version of "S of S" reminds me of techno-rock, but call it what you will.

"The Sound of Silence" almost never made it into the mainstream. Simon & Garfunkel along with their song were almost never to be in the collective's ears, but a series of quinkydinks took over, providing them notoriety. Strange how that stuff works. I wonder how many others over time have never had a receptive platform for their artistic talents? I suspect the pile is heaped high.

I already know that each generation has their elite musical talents, but there was something very special about the era of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction. So many of the tunes have become classics, enjoyed by successive generations. Music has become a modern, requisite backdrop in movies and TV commercials, with producers searching for the just-right sound, and so often reviving a slumbering song...or a new talent finding an old song, such as the group Disturbed did with "The Sound of Silence".

Very chilly here in the deep South, but a heatwave compared to your OK temperatures, Twilight! My sister in KS can't get to work, because of the very thick ice covered with an inch of snow. This was an amazingly destructive winter cold front. Saw that there are now over 40 dead due to this storm, though it has only made it halfway across the country at this point. Watch-out, Sonny!

mike (again) said...

Off - Trump recants and is taking a chapter from Bernie's playbook:

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ These days 'twixt Christmas and New Year always seem oddly "off" to me - can never remember what day it is! LOL! The post's title reminded me today. ;-)

Twilight said...

mike + (again) ~ I agree about the Uranus/Pluto era's music. It was something akin to the Golden Age of Illustration, but in popular music. (Those golden illustrating artists born mid to late 19th century, but heyday of their output was 1900 - 1940-ish). Some of the songwriters and musicians of the Uranus/Pluto musical heyday were born with Uranus in musical Taurus - Simon and Garfunkel are examples.

Weather is overly seasonal today - and so dangerous for many. Our driveway is a skating rink - we will not even go looking for the newspaper, if the guy who delivers it even got here, which is doubtful. Listening to the BBC online I hear that parts of the north of England has terrible flooding.

(again) -Trump'll say anything that'll get him air time and internet tweets and clicks!
I've been reading this (it's from Sept.) which I enjoyed - in a perverse kind of way:

mike (again) said...

I hadn't come across Shaun Mullen prior, so thanks for the intro. He obviously writes lively, political essays and "The Center Didn't Hold" was a good read. I read several entries and it's blatant that he's not conservative, but I couldn't determine whether he's centrist, leftist, or other. He doesn't seem overly enthused with either of the Dem or Repub camps, nor does he seem to be supportive of any candidate, but maybe that's his non-biased, political-editorial career shining through.

He has a sister site:

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ He seems to be keeping his options open! A wily, shrewd old journalist (retired) who has learned many tricks of the trade and puts them to good use on the net! :-)

I didn't know of the sister site - thanks.

He's not, apparently, pro-Bernie (few will admit to being that!) which doesn't endear him to me, but indicates he must be, at heart, pro-Clinton. I do admire his writing style though.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

'The words of the Prophet are written on the tenement walls...' made me think of them dissing Banksy in the Guardian comments today.

This version is okay, I guess; bit of a purist here. I like the game of who/which band sang a better version than the original.

No, Simon and Garfunkel sang such gorgeous harmonies, I just can't get excited about this version. Probably my age showing, too ;P

Twilight said...

Sabina ~ I enjoy hearing different versions of very good songs or piece of music too.
I believe that it takes a very high quality song, or piece of music, to lend itself to a variety of approaches. The S of S is very high quality!

I like all versions, this one struck a chord with me at this particular time though - I like the anger in the second part, it fits our times, and comes across more clearly than the sweetness of S & G's original, which I'll always like too. :-)

I'll go see what they're saying about Banksy (I can imagine!)

mike (again) said...

"My name is Nyle DiMarco. I am Deaf. I’m the fourth generation and I have over 25 Deaf members in my family. I am now in the semi finals towards the Mirror Ball on Dancing With The Stars. I am writing this letter to let you know how much your song “Sound of Silence” means so much to me and my Deaf community and that I would love to dance to your song for the finals. I feel this is important for you to know that we the Deaf people underwent a terrible history and we are still stuck in the darkness. The darkness of oppression that your song truly reverberated to me.

Before the year 1880, we the Deaf people lived normal lives. We were perceived normal. We held political positions. We joined the army. We had jobs. We had an education through sign language that greatly benefited to our visual eyes and silent ears. It was until the Milan Conference in 1880 that led to language deprivation and… ultimately our culture, our job opportunities, and our intelligence. We were tortured. Our ancestors underwent electric shock chairs, surgeries (without anesthesia), and so many torturing methods just to help us regain our hearing. We were also punished if we used sign language. We were whipped. Slapped with our rulers. Abused. We were required to try and learn to speak (and that always, always miserably failed).

We also lost jobs. Many now perceive us as disabled, that we can’t serve the army, hold political positions, nor teach. Because of the conference that almost led to the death of the Deaf culture (and was basically genocide and cultural-genocide), we are still trying to get out of the dark. I just founded Nyle DiMarco Foundation and our focus is on Deaf kids. We are working with state and U.S. senators to write and pass the bill that requires bilingualism (American Sign Language and English) because it was recently proven by science that it will benefit the Deaf child a lot more than just English only. I am using my celebrity platform and especially on DWTS for good cause.

With your song… we are planning on showing my history’s terrible times through dancing… and to your powerful and moving song. We feel that with you, your song, and us, we will make/change history and help people better understand our history, and build allies all over the world to help better Deaf lives.

Help us resurface from our darkness, from the systematic oppression. There is power in Sound of Silence.
We hope you will grant us the permission. Lets change history together!

Nyle DiMarco"

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Thank you for this addition. What a moving letter!