Sound of Silence

The Simon and Garfunkel rendition of “Sound of Silence” (1964) recently got a remake. Performed by the Chicago-originated band Disturbed, this is no folk-song version. I like the original, but I like this version more: it is raw, angry, apocryphal in tone and delivery. I heard it for the first time today as I was driving home from work. I am a person who responds viscerally to music, and when the music is combined with lyrics that powerful, I tend to cry. Today, I pulled over so I could process what I’d heard.

“Sound of Silence” doesn’t make me nostalgic, exactly; though as music will, I am reminded of what I was doing when I heard the song the first time. My friend and I performed this song in our high school talent show. We both dressed in black, wanting to represent the deep and ponderous nature of the song. Did we really take ourselves that seriously? No, but we pretended that we did. The performance was fine, I suppose, insofar as we didn’t get tomatoes thrown at us (do people actually do that?).

Today, I was reminded that music communicates in ways that other art forms do not. I can be astounded by a work of art, impressed with the sheer physical nature of dance, touched deeply by words, or any combination of grateful and humbling adjectives to describe any art form’s impression on my psyche. Music reaches somewhere else, though. It creates almost a form of synesthesia in which I feel the music (like dancing) and see an image (like art or writing) – only different. I am obviously not a music critic or I could describe this more effectively, but essentially Disturbed sang this song in a way that woke me up from my daily grind and whacked me upside the head, in a good way.

Of course, as a wordy person, I listened to the lyrics. The yelling delivery of the line “But my words like silent raindrops fell” exposes the contrast between what people say and what we mean. My favorite lyric: “Silence like a cancer grows.” Taken out of the context of the song, I was reminded of what tends to cause people to misunderstand each other: silence, or at the very least, not very good communication.

In any case, I am grateful to the coincidence that had me tuning into that particular station on the radio. This is why I love music. It’s impressive how changing tone or instrumentation can impact the overall meaning of a song. Wow. Just wow.

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