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“The Sound of Silence” – Simon and Garfunkel

In today’s English Cafe, Jeff talked about the movie The Graduate. The soundtrack of the movie (music used in the movie) contains several songs that have become classics (judged to be good overtime and is known by a lot of people). One of the songs that is best-known is “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel.

Paul Simon didn’t actually write “The Sound the Silence” for the film, although it is very closely associated with The Graduate today.  He wrote it several years earlier after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  The song was released in 1965, two years before The Graduate.  The song hit (arrived at) number 1 on the charts (ranking of the most popular songs) on New Year’s Day in 1966.

~ Lucy

“The Sound of Silence”
by Simon and Garfunkel

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision (seeing something, like in a dream) softly creeping (moving slowly and carefully)
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted (placed there by someone else) in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence (with no sound)

In restless (unable to relax) dreams I walked alone
Narrow (not wide) streets of cobblestone (round stone used to cover the surface of a road)
(Be)neath the halo (circle of light, usually around the head of a holy person) of a street lamp
I turned my collar (piece of material around the neck of a shirt) to the cold and damp (a little wetness)
When my eyes were stabbed (hit by something sharp, like a knife) by the flash of a neon light
That split (divided; interrupted) the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked (uncovered) 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 (had the courage)
Disturb the sound of silence

Fools (unwise people)”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer (serious disease where the cells of the body behave in a destructive way – see 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 (deep places) of silence

And the people bowed (lowered their heads) and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out (turning on and off its lights) its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets (people who are believed to have special information or knowledge from God) are written on the subway walls
And tenement (buildings with small apartments, usually for people with low income) halls”
And whispered (spoke very softly) in the sounds of silence

13 Responses to ““The Sound of Silence” – Simon and Garfunkel”

  1. emiliano Says:

    It was on the year 1969 when Cuca and me went to a theatre in the Gran Via of Madrid and watched together
    “The Graduate” with Simon and Gartunkel´s music.
    For the moment we were living here in Spain it was an odd movie and it was censured by the Regime as
    usual.
    Cuca and me didn´t agree about the movie in that moment, I did like it but she didn´t instead.
    We were dating each other for three or four months and It was our first argument because the theme provoked
    some controversial comments between us.

    Music was lovely, I like it very much.

    —–

    Hi Peter, yesterday I wrote two long long …..long comments.
    First about the marriages, and for Betty, the other about the difficulties
    of the web in Iran or other countries.
    I don´t want to bore friends with so many writings.

    Thank you Bro, it´s nice you miss me.

    emiliano

  2. Roberto Says:

    What a wonderful memories with this song!
    When I was in high school, 1985, there was an English teacher that tried to teach his students english language and he usually used songs and one of them was “The sound of silence”. Students had a nickname for him “quickly” because he spoke very fast and always finished his sentences with “quickly Mister”.
    I remembered him because I didnt want to learn English (I said to myself, “what do I want to learn English for? I will never go to England”) and he was upset because nobody listened to him in your explanations about the meaning of this song. It seems I am watching and listening: “Mister you have to learn English because it is very important” and I did not hear him because I only wanted to be laughing with my friends.
    Nowadays, what would he think about me if we read my comments in this podcast?
    Yes guys, you are right. I was silly really very silly. So, I want to apologize for him about my bad behavior. I regret about this.
    But, people must be positive and trying to learn about all things that happen in our life: now, I am going to try to learn English and I wish my children were more intelligent than their father.

    Ps: I will learn the lyrics of this song, so my teacher can observe that his teachings were good and his studentes can correct mistakes even 25 years ago.

  3. Betty Says:

    Thank you very much indeed, Lucy, you are wonderful, always post songs here that make me start singing to the computer.

    My daughters found it funny to hear me singing. I had not been singing for a very long time, until now. To tell you a little secret, my husband does not like to hear me singing, but he cannot stop me learning English by singing the song that Lucy post here for us, it is an order from the teacher to sing, so, “keep on singing, don’t stop singing”.

    I suddenly have the song ‘Keep on Singing’ by Helen Reddy in my head, hope you don’t mind me sharing it’s Lyrics with everyone here.

    *******************************
    I don’t remember mama
    She died when I was born
    We lived in a one room shanty
    But daddy tried to make it a home
    When I was only six years old
    I started singing in the streets
    People would throw me pennies
    So I could daddy make ends meet
    They said

    (refrain, i.e. repeat):

    Keep on singing
    Don’t stop singing
    You’re gonna be a star someday
    You’re gonna make a lot of people happy
    When they come to hear you play
    They said keep on singin
    Keep the bells a ringin

    Spread the music from town to town
    There’s not enough song in this old world
    So spread your song around
    By the time I was 10 years old
    I had a rock n roll band
    Daddy’s eyes were growing dim
    But I didn’t understand
    He said he would be so proud of me
    Each time he’d hear us play
    At night he’d pull me to his side
    And daddy would always say

    (refrain, i.e. repeat)

    He didn’t have much money
    But things didn’t seem so bad
    I felt just like the queen of the world
    When I was with my dad
    Then one rainy April night
    Daddy called me to his side
    He held me with his trembling hands
    Right before he died
    (refrain, i.e. repeat)
    (refrain, i.e. repeat)
    (refrain, i.e. repeat)

    FADE
    *************************

    All my dear friends – the English Writers – I enjoy reading everyone’s messages, albeit sad to learn from the previous blog ‘Listeners in Iran’ that some ESLPOD.com listeners in Iran had reported that they had been unable to download the audio files from here for the past few weeks. We can see solidarity from everyone’s post.

    Thank you, Hilario; thank you, Emiliano; thank you, Peter; thank you all for giving me a pat on my back. I must thank you all for all the encouragements which have been so useful in helping me write more and improve faster.

    My thanks also go to all my friends who have come together to write something here. I need to read everyone’s message here to help me pass a day happily.

    It is true that I am very happy when I see many messages here, because I can see that all my English Writing friends are well when I see their messages here. Even just a word ‘hi’ makes me happy.

    Everything Peter said about Jeff – our headmaster’s – work has been in my heart all the time. Thank you, Peter, for being so precise.

    Everything Roberto said above in this blog was so true, I hope some younger English learners here understand what we older English learners say.

    Learning English is not useless, it is not unpatriotic; to be able to serve one’s country better, we need to be good at more languages, English is just one of them.

  4. Lucia Says:

    Hi Dr Lucy … Thanks for refreshing my memories. This song take me to a time of wonderful memories, when I was a teen. Great times, beautiful song. Thank you!

  5. Olya Says:

    I know this song! I’ve heard often last summer. Thank you for lyrics

  6. Daniel Welsch Says:

    I’m sending this to my students, thanks for the very useful website.

  7. Daniel Says:

    Hello to everyone,

    Thanks Lucy, it is nice listening to some music once in a wile.

    Speaking of Iran, I would also like to remember a beautiful song by Bob Marley:

    Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
    Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
    Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
    Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!

    Sorry, but I would like to mention here that this afternoon from Florida there will be Discovery’s final spaceflight.
    After this last take off it’ll get retaired :(

    Bye!

  8. emiliano Says:

    Music joins people round the world that´s the magical of this sound.
    Thank you so much Betty for the lyrics, it´s a nice sad song but also brings hope and happiness
    inside the heart, I´m going to listen to the tune just now.

    What to say about “The Sound of Silence” still now I keep listening to this song and all from Simon and Garfunkel, they
    are like friends who share hours with me through the last forty years.
    ——
    Just another request Lucy, please, I would like so much to have here “The Boxer” one of the best songs of all the time, also
    when it would be possible “Hotel California”…The Eagles, “Dust in the Wind”…Kansas, and of course “American Pie”…Doc McLean
    may be one of the most significative songs and lyrics that represents folk music of the past years in USA.
    Even Madonna made a review of this song but I like more the original.

    Thank you in advance Lucy, I know you are very busy so please don´t feel any hurry about my desires, they are only desires
    to have in mind.
    You know I love music and these are so incredible good songs to me.

    emiliano

  9. emiliano Says:

    Something curious and not well known about the song “American Pie”…….here in Spain.

    First time the song was sold here in Spain with Franco dictator still alive, the song was sharply censured.
    When the lyrics were “The father, the son and The Holy Ghost” and “My hand were clenched in fists of rage” an strong beep was overlaid, and it was impossible
    to understand the lyrics.”
    It was supposed that these parts of the lyrics could be: “heretic” the first, and the second “revolucionary”.

    But censors were stupid as nearly no body knew anything about English Language, dictators and censors are so stupid and bad persons all over the world
    now and them.
    Criminals after all.

    That was the censured Spain that I knew for a long time.

  10. Peter Says:

    Betty,
    You give hope to fading hopes
    Nice gesture
    Keep on doing this

  11. Hilario Says:

    After thoroughly reading the spirit of the lyrics on Mr.Simon song of and taking into account the very critical moments in that were in U.S., one realize the context in when he was creating this master piece, it turns out absolutely obvious the huge kind of consternation and the mental shock he was suffering after Kennedy´s assassination. It also maybe conveys a kind of reproach to the entire northamerican society for maybe being a little bit indulgent with such a tremendously sinister assassination and ask for enough and clear responsibilities, nor at least with the complicity of silence. An old china proverb says that civilian people that forget without punishment the felonies of the people in power are condemned to repeat them once and again.

  12. Peter Says:

    I just played the music and listened to it closely.
    It is old school.
    Not a hit,but classy in a sense that was a break through song style.
    Describeing the true nature of sadness and Linliness ,you know wart and all
    I like it that way
    Not sappy nonsense!!!
    I m not a big fan though!

  13. Peter Says:

    It is nice ,i think we should incorporate sayings and poems here,so we learn some famous words here and there.
    That way ,when you here a famous pun ,anectod ,poem,or even saying you know the concept.
    I really apricot Tania for doing this here and there.
    It is very important to know Thoes culture-rooted terms.
    People can relate to you better
    I appeal to Jeff ,and Lucy to indulg us from tome to time.
    There is no other way, you must here them from Jeff or Lucy
    What do u think ?