The Sound of Silence

“The Sound of Silence” is a song written by Paul Simon and recorded by the American folk-rock music duo Simon and Garfunkel. Paul Simon himself stated that this song was about people’s lack of ability to communicate freely, and that people are oppressed into silence. The song speaks of the need to come to grips with reality and that when meaningful communication fails, the only thing that remains is silence.

The general essence of the song goes as follows: A man meditates on a vision that has been troubling him. The vision was about people idolizing celebrity, wealth, and possessions and worshipping the materialism/consumerism and fake culture that everyone lived in but did nothing about; a shallow, culturally bankrupt society that crushes a more beautiful, simple world.

People are afraid to speak up, and so remain silent. Besides, no one is listening anyways, so “the cancer grows”, as everyone lives in ignorance, complacency, conformity, and submission, completely powerless against the fakeness and absurdity of what they are doing.  One stanza that is very profound includes the lines: “

People talking without speaking,

People hearing without listening,

People writing songs that voices never share

And no one dared

Disturb the sound of silence.”

 

The word ”dared” implies that the people knew of the absurdity of what they were doing yet still refused to speak up, and instead resorted to remaining silent. Later in the song, even when the narrator tries to reprimand and lecture the people of their ways, his words fell like “silent raindrops”, and the people continued to blindly worship their “neon god”. The narrator himself eventually settles into helplessness and grief, as he watches the people fall to their doom.

The entire song is laced with negative words, like “darkness”, “cold”, “damp”, “stabbed”, “naked”, “disturb”, “fools”, “cancer”, “silent raindrops”, “wells”, ”warning”, so that just listening to the song makes one experience the sense of loneliness and gloominess, the kind that someone feels when he/she gives up hope on the people around, when the end, the conclusion, is drawing near. For me, this song perfectly compiles all of my feelings about the absurdity that this world can have sometimes.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  —-Martin Luther King.

This is the sound of silence. The oppression that is accepted, not fought.

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