Paul Simon, regarding his song The Sounds of Silence

“I had trouble concentrating while playing guitar and writing music—because of the constant distractions around me. Everyone was obsessed with TV, as well as other neon gods they made, as the world constantly changed for the worse.

“I would turn off the lights out in my room, but street lights would shine through the window, and there was no darkness. So I would go to the bathroom, turn off the lights, and turn on the faucet to use the water for drowning out all the other sounds around me.

“And there in the darkness was where I would relax, sing, and play guitar. And every time I turned out the lights, I would say ‘hello darkness, my old friend’.

“Throughout my childhood, my parents ignored me—and each other—to watch TV. So I wrote the song to describe the loneliness in a world that was descending to the point where, more and more, people were at least unwilling—if not unable—even to concentrate, let alone to connect and share with each other in meaningful ways: they were all too busy rushing, and plotting, and regretting.”

The Lyrics for The Sounds of Silence

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain,
Still remains,
Within the sound of silence;

In restless dreams I walked alone,
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp,
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light,
That split the night,
And touched the sound of silence;

And in the naked light I saw,
Ten thousand people, maybe more,
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share,
No one dared,
Disturb the sound of silence;

“Fools” said I, “You do not know,
Silence like a 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 of silence;

And the people bowed and prayed,
To the neon god they made,
And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming,
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets,
Are written on the subway walls,
And tenement halls,”
And whispered in the sounds of silence.

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