I grew up with such an eclectic mix of music. From early on, my father would play everything in my basement in Canada, from Saturday Afternoon at the Opera to Roy Orbison, Elton John, Phil Collins and Simon & Garfunkel.
“The Sound of Silence” reminds me of those listening days, weekends at home with my family and though a somewhat reflective, and even sad lyric, the simplicity of its melody and vocal harmonies has stuck with me.
Released in October 1964, the album was initially a commercial failure and led to the duo breaking apart but in the spring of 1965, the song began to attract airplay at radio stations in Boston, Massachusetts, and Florida. The growing airplay led Tom Wilson, the song’s producer, to remix the track with electric instrumentation with the same musicians who backed Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”. Simon & Garfunkel were not informed of the song’s remix until after its release in September 1965.
The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending January 1, 1966, leading the duo to reunite and hastily record their second album, which Columbia titled Sounds of Silence in an attempt to capitalize on the song’s success.
In an interview with Terry Gross of National Public Radio (NPR) Paul Simon said of the lyrics “It wasn’t something that I was experiencing at some deep, profound level—nobody’s listening to me, nobody’s listening to anyone—it was a post-adolescent angst, but it had some level of truth to it and it resonated with millions of people. Largely because it had a simple and singable melody.”