Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Sounds of Silence, Simon & Garfunkel (1965)

Heartfelt poetry, gorgeous harmonies and masterful guitar work are the central ingredients of this pain-filled prayer against youthful alienation. Until now, I didn't know of The Sounds of Silence's strange genesis, described by Rolling Stone, where it occupies #156 on the list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Originally written for acoustic guitar, that version of the single went nowhere, and the duo broke up. While Paul Simon was abroad, their producer, Tom Wilson, who was also producing "Like A Rolling Stone" for Bob Dylan, prevailed upon Dylan's studio band to add electric guitar and drums to the ballad. After the remix, and without consulting either Simon or Art Garfunkel, he released the record, and it became a hit before either artist heard it.

This bizarre scenario produced one of the most affecting folk-rock compositions ever recorded. Coming from Jewish New Yorkers, it had a deeply morose and very urban sensibility that was unlike anything else heard in America at that time. Its depiction of disaffected society was disturbing and authentic, a song completely of its time and yet timeless.

1 comment:

Linda G said...

Nice job, Wendy. You've touched a place in my soul...I'll be back.