What does The Sound of Silence mean?

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Simon & Garfunkel: The Sound of Silence Meaning


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Song Released: 1965

Covered By: Bananarama (2009), Disturbed (2015)

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The Sound of Silence Lyrics

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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...


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    Oct 11th, 2016 10:22am report

    Ok here it goes. Art Garfunkle in an interview clearly stated it was about the inability of people to communicate, not in terms of plain languge, or international issues, but rather spiritualy and emotionaly. The result being, an inability to love one another. Paul Simon on the other hand literaly said, I dont actualy know. I wrote my parts on several occassions, while sitting in the dark, in the bathroom of my parents house, while playing my guitar. So it seems to me that while Paul was speaking in one type of medaphore, art clearly took it to another level. As to it being about politicians lying, and people speaking hollow words, that would indeed fit into the notion that while we can speak the same language, our spoken words amount to no worthwhile communication at all. Regarding our false idols, this is easy enough to interperate, as humans have done this for centuries. Now adays rather than a golden lamb, it is more likely to be pro athletes, movie stars, music stars, etc. So in a nutshell, while paul may not have originaly intended this to be such an altruistic message, art managed to turn it into one that will ring true for a long time to come. We are like sheep allowing our government to control us and remove our liberties, and we follow them to the slaughter. We are also like sheep in that few of us practice critical thinking, and as a result most fall prey not only to poloticians, but the corporate whores who sell us all the debauchery we can consume., and consume we do. With that in mind, this song is every bit as powerful and purposful today as when it was first released, if not more so.


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    Mar 16th, 2011 3:33am report

    This may be coming from a generation to far into the distant future to understand the feelings of the time, but here it goes:

    The first stanza Simon refers to darkness as being his "old friend" that he came to talk with because he was awoken in the middle of the night, of a nightmare that still lingers in his head, that gives his a considerable amount of distress. So bad that the awful visions were still flashing before his eyes as he is awake.

    Second stanza begins setting the scene in which the dream took place: at night, him walking along the cobblestone road where he stops below the light of a streetlight. The cold chill runs up his back, so he lifts his collar to the "cold and damp." Just then, a blight neon sign lit up, showing that he, in fact, was not alone. But there were "ten thousand maybe more" all gathered in the cold night. The people who are talking, not speaking, are politicians, who are using false words to sway the population to vote for them, never revealing true intentions. The people therefore are hearing are not listening.

    They are taking these words that are spoken to them in plain value, not examining or putting into depth anything that is said. Because of this, as referred to later, these politicians have formed a government that the people in fact voted for and supported until it began to act as a dictatorship. This seems that Simon is making an inditement to a large government that has taken away the freedoms of its people. A future for America it seemed with the rise of government in world affairs as in entered Vietnam. This "future America" has given Americans everything, and has the power the take it all away, hence the people "bow and pray to the neon god they made."

    The Silence that is referred to is the silence of the people, afraid to say anything against the government for fear of death or worse. Simon, or whoever has had this dream, tries to bring people to speak out. Saying "Fools, you do not know, Silence like a cancer grows" that as more are afraid to speak, the more control the government takes and the less anyone will stand up to the new government.

    As all hope is about to be given up, someone steps up and says to the crowd that the future they will hold has been written on the walls of subways and tenement halls. This is because this form of protest can be done anonymously, therefore no one can get in trouble for it. This begins the whispering in the silence of the people, and starts the beginning of a revolt.

    -I hope you enjoyed a younger perspective on this classic song. USMCRIFLEMAN2006


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    Oct 13th, 2017 10:32pm report

    I believe in God giving visions, and I believe God is telling them that they are putting all of their hopes and dreams on things of this earth instead of things above. You can keep searching for things to make you happy but they don't, and until you make that decision to follow what your soul is really in need of you will still have that sound of silence . The great awakening will be when you have turned your life to the one who made you and find that peace that only God can give.


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    Sep 25th, 9:57pm report

    Hello darkness, my old friend
    I've come to talk with you again

    The dreamer a prophet has just awaken from a recurring vision that has left him in that state where one is afraid to move or speak after gaining consciousness from a nightmare

    Because a vision softly creeping
    Left it's seeds while I was sleeping
    And the vision that was planted
    In my brain still remains
    Within the sound of silence

    Terrified to share this vision with anyone he keeps it to himself by meditating on it alone

    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

    He begins recalling the vision of his actions starting from the beginning. As stated

    When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
    That split the night
    And touched the sound of silence

    The neon light was off standing while illuminating these:

    And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people, maybe more

    These are those that were left in the very moment Jesus returned and left

    People talking without speaking
    People hearing without listening
    People writing songs that voices never share
    And no one dared
    Disturb the sound of silence

    All were left speechless realizing all that had been foretold was true and yet they all simultaneouly knew what was to follow

    "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"

    Now the prophet in angelic form begins to speak to the masses where they all have come short and what was to follow.

    But my words, like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed
    In the wells of silence

    And then he departs to heaven

    And the people bowed and prayed
    To the neon god they made

    The graffiti like warning sign was All that was left pertaining to God created by someone that was also ignored by the people.

    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"

    Their final warning before the coming of the Lord

    And whispered in the sounds of silence


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    Aug 25th, 8:26pm report

    The song can be interpreted, like anything in life, via your own paradigm and experiences. To me, it is clearly about 'Sleep' and the importance to life. Sleep is the one thing that has evolved in all beings regardless of risk to life. Sleep may well be the dominant state.
    I will go through the lyrics line by line at some stage one it is imprinted on my mind after a good sleep!


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    May 22nd, 5:40am report

    I personally feel like music, just as books (even the Bible) are subjective to one's own interpretation.
    I am a person that uses music as a bit of therapy, so I feel it as much as I hear it, if that makes sense.
    This particular song has always affected me in a deep way. For me, the darkness is what I experience battling depression, PTSD, the loss of a child and also as a survivor of rape by a relative that happened to me as a very young child...something everyone knows about but just kinda swept under the rug and never, ever speaks of. My tendency when the thoughts/memories/depression floods my brain (often after I've had a nightmare of any one of those events) is to withdraw completely within myself, away from friends, family, even my children... because I feel that no one really understands what it's like (and honestly I'm glad they don't, it means they haven't been thru it themselves) and it's not something they reach out to me and really try to help with either or even ask about. So I carry it alone, always have,and when it's bad I keep myself distanced from the people I love the most because I'm just not always able to fake smiles, so the silence between us grows. (Especially now that my children are adults and out on their own.) Like a cancer, that eats away at the body, the silence and lack of feeling able to have honest communiaction is eating away at the relationships and lately prevents me from creating new ones entirely. No one dares ask me what's wrong when I'm withdrawn, and I think my children assume I just choose to withdraw from them, so again, it's like a cancer, slowly eating away at the meaningful relationships and leaving in its place a deafening and heartbreaking silence. Is darkness my friend? No, but being alone during the difficult times is welcomed when I just don't have the energy to pretend anymore that everything is okay.
    In regards to the line about "seeing 10,000 people, maybe more", for me, I relate that to the times when I can be totally surrounded by people (family included) and yet feel so utterly and completely alone.
    The song is a painful one, but it's one that speaks to my heart. I particularly love the cover performed by Disturbed. The emotion he sings it with, the build up from a soft, depressed beginning that turns into almost pure rage by the end,is very much how I feel about it all inside.
    I don't try to interpret what an artist's intended meaning is for any piece of music, I connect with different pieces for my own personal reasons. Just thought I'd share my reason for this particular piece.


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    May 18th, 5:53am report

    I believe it’s to do with being aware , present in the present , keeping your mind clear , not being influenced by people or things , keeping a dialogue with others , finding your purpose in life and not being silenced while living it !
    The hello darkness my old friend , I feel is ironic !
    Realising that you have slipped once again into mainstream beliefs and control !


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    Apr 30th, 4:23pm report

    A lonely person entered into the wilderness. Surrounded by darkness when there is only silence and can only see a very dim light and feelings of coolness. Than came a flash of a neon light that split the night in two and was within The Sound Of Silence.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Apr 24th, 2018 4:16am report

    I’m actually a scrapbooking nut.
    So, I’m actually using the song for the scrapbook I’m doing for my daughter who lost her baby. She has suffered depression for years, I think it’s meaning is of someone suffering depression and feeling alone, but when the lyrics say about seeing other people. It sounds like they realise they’re not alone, and they can see the light in the darkness of depression


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    Mar 14th, 2018 3:48pm report

    Basically, what this song is about is that there are so many countries where languages are different from what we know and accept here in the States, or in more civilized areas. People think that they are just as sophisticated as us, but they're not. But people can all come together through the universal language of music. People who cannot understand each other with their native languages can understand each other through music and interpretative dance. When he says that there was a neon light that blinded him, he means that he was out in the middle of the night and just walking around, and suddenly a neon light turned on right in front of his eyes, effectively, but not intentionally, blinding him for a minute. The whole song is not about one or two instances. It is talking about the existence of life and the belief that we could just go in and try to teach people what we mean with our words. We all eventually go back into our native routes and find music as our main language, because we can communicate to others through what we listen to, and they can understand exactly what we're talking about.


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    Mar 4th, 2018 3:03am report

    I just read the reactions of people that listen to this song and i was absolutely amazed! The song really does have a meaning of purpose its really no joke. The song remindes me of the classic chris isaak wicked game video that first aired on mtv in mid 90s the version that utube does not want u to view.


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    Feb 19th, 2018 2:42am report

    I thought that when the song says in the naked light I saw ten thousand people maybe' refers of the judgement day that it saw ten thousand people maybe more...


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    Feb 8th, 2018 2:50am report

    This song is about the assignation and death of Kennedy.


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    Jan 27th, 2018 1:03am report

    Feeling that no one is listening (to you) or anyone else.


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    Jan 24th, 2018 1:09pm report

    Same message as "A Horse With No Name." Meditation is crucial for spiritual survival during an earth incarnation. The soul is pleading, yet lamenting. "...words, like silent raindrops fell and echoed in the wells of silence," as is "...and the story it told of a river that flowed made me sad to think it was dead." Silence! No Name! "Silence" is for those who have "ears to hear."


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    Jan 4th, 2018 1:20am report

    To me it appeared to be about dark times/depression that was isolating even when around thousands of people. Going through the motion but not able to communicate and people not really hearing the distress as they continue with their daily routine, like robots programmed, not able to think for themselves anymore. Isolated, alone, lonely and not able to emotionally or verbally connect with one another. Living a life without hope or purpose.


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    Dec 18th, 2017 12:41am report

    Garfunkel once summed up the song's meaning as "the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly internationally but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other." WIKI
    There is nothing wonderful about this song.
    Wrong date from the first song I commented today.. not 17 but 18
    - CONFIDENTIAL 12/18/17


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    Dec 18th, 2017 12:27am report

    This song is prophetic. "People talking without speaking", that's what's happening now in this electronic age, we talk to each other without speaking. "People hearing without listening", we hear by reading...
    Wonderful song.

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