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

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...

  1. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 10th 2012 report

    Let's let Simon and garfunkle speak for themselves on what this means. Check the you tube video, and the actual artists who wrote and sang it tell us exactly what it means. Lack of communication intellectually as well as emotionally. Or should we not believe what the artists themselves say what their own song means?

  2. anonymous
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    May 31st 2012 report

    i think the speaker has woken from a dream and is telling the darkness, of the night around him, of the vision that deeply troubled or perplexed him. He walked alone where he was haloed by a street lamp. He was suddenly woken by the noen light. That's as far as i got so far. Also somthing to remember the progreesion of the sound of silence; it's touched, it's disturbed, his words echoed in the wells of silence, and finally the whispering in the sound of silence. What is the sound of silence?

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  3. anonymous
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    Apr 20th 2012 report

    It seems to me that during the song there is an incredibly large lack of communication and no matter what he said, ("Fools said I, you do not know
    silence like a cancer grows.")
    the large amount of people will not listen and continue to listen to their "Neon God." I do believe, like others as well, that this "Neon God" is a refrence to how people become obsessed with the very shallow outside surroundings around them and not on the important things. The silence of real communication and real thought has stopped them from looking at the world and seeing if the things around them are right or wrong.

  4. anonymous
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    Apr 20th 2012 report

    It seems to me that during the song there is an incredibly large lack of communication and no matter what he said, ("Fools said I, you do not know
    silence like a cancer grows.")
    the large amount of people will not listen and continue to listen to their "Neon God." I do believe, like others as well, that this "Neon God" is a refrence to how people become obsessed with the very shallow outside surroundings around them and not on the important things. The silence of real communication and real thought has stopped them from looking at the world and seeing if the things around them are right or wrong.

  5. anonymous
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    Mar 23rd 2012 report

    When you sit to meditate with your eyes closed you see darkness before your eyes. You say 'hello'to the darkness because that's is the what we do when we meet someone and mean to start a polite conversation with them. In this case the polite conversation would be sitting there and observing our minds and learing the crap it contains. We literally sit there and argu, discuss, question, laugh,fight, struggle and get intrigued with what our silly minds throw at us..it is a bit like making passionate love with someone and reaching your climax!! In this case the climax would be total silence.

    Now let me interpret the 'vision' part of this great song. It simply points to the fact that when I was sleeping ever so comfortably and peacefully in my mother's womb you (ref. to God) took care of me and nourished me both spiritually and physically. You took care of me so that when I was born into this awful world of ours I was fully supplied with knowledge
    how to survive in it. The seed of that knowledge was planted there in my mother's womb while I was sleeping waiting to see this horrid, horrid world of ours.

    While I was sleeping in my mother's womb, I was totally, totally aware of your Presence oh God! In fact my soul saw you through the whole stay. I was at one with you there. As soon as I came into this world I sort of forgot you and that is why I have to sit in meditation and reach that silence again in order to feel your wonderful and comforting Presence for that's where you are.....in the sound of Great Silence.

  6. anonymous
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    Mar 19th 2012 report

    For another take on a possible understanding of the lyrics, read the story of Elijah's vision of God "passing by" when Elijah was fleeing for his life. God was "not in the wind", "not in the earthquake", and "not in the fire". Then came "a sound of sheer silence". - 1 Kings 19:4-12.
    New Revised Standard Version. The King James Version of the Bible translates it as "a still small voice".

    bpisak

  7. anonymous
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    Mar 6th 2012 report

    I beleive that this is deeper than just "lack of communication." I can't entirly describe it. I think that It's more like, not being heard. There are all of these people in the world being opressed, even today. People who's voices are not allowed to be heard, perhaps partly because we refuse to hear them. We refuse to see any point of veiw but our own. People refuse to listen to anyone who has not conformed to the rest of sociey. As a perosn with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism, I am all to aware of this opression. How other people shove aside those who are different, and refuse to hear them, even when thier ideas are amazing. The teachers who refused to recognize that though I have many gifts, I'm still disabled. Right now the groups of people who being opressed are gays, Muslims and people with disabilitys, especially the kind of disability like mine where on the surface you appear to be like any other kid, but you really aren't. In the past, many other groups have been opresed; blacks, women, Jews, Native Americans, ect. Throughout history, if you look at it, you see storys of oppression. Storys of all of these voices crying out to be heard, but never passing through this "neon god" of conformity that people have made. Look at history, how everyone just sat back and watched the Halocaust happen, and even when there was evidence of it the world refused to see it. Look at slavery. That was an issue for thousands of years. Since humans first began forming civilizations. When the American Constitution was written, the founders purposly avoided the issue of slavery. All this time, throughout history, there are these voices being shoved aside. Have you ever noticed how in history books the issue of slavery is not mentioned unless it's about the Civil war? Or how the oppression African Americans is not mentioned unless the book is about the Civil Rights movement? How the opression of Gay people is only just begining to come out from behind the neon signt? How Disney shows always have one 'weird' kid who gets picked on, and the 'audience' laughs at it? How people still insist that things Asperger's Syndrome, and ADHD don't exist and people like me are simply 'wierd.'? How when schools lecture kids on bullying, they mention the obvious things, but not the little things that happen much more often, and that really do hurt, like rolling your eyes, shareing a "god this kid is weird" look with your friend, or turning down other people's attempts to be social, or never to passing the ball to the awkward kid in gym class? All the time things like this happen, and no one sees it. And these people you're oppressing are screaming out for you to hear them, but their voices are blocked off by this Neon light that is mentioned in the song. Their screeming and calling out to you, but there is no sound reaching your ears. Then, when a voice finally dose break through the Neon light, you get things like The Civil Rights movement. Afterwards such movements, we look back at history and question why the people at that time could be so cruel, and don't realize how we're acting now. It's like there are all these people who's voices are burried beneath the ground, and everyone else is just walking on a street above and not hearing anything. The people everyone has shoved behind the neon sign of conformity that we built up in society, who are screeming but there is no voice coming out, and the screems fall flat on your muffed ears, that's the sound of silence.

  8. anonymous
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    Sep 29th 2011 report

    Many good observations and interpretations I hadn't thought of. My interpretation is not complete yet, but I get a definite feeling that there's a religious dimension to this song. I believe Simon & Garfunkel are Jewish? In case, a couple things drive my opionion that the message is more universal and more religious, and not primarily political or cultural. The most striking line is out how, out of near total darkness, a neon light "split the night." This struck me as violent and dramatic - very sudden and unexpected. Maybe a reference to the Mesiah. This, along with the references to the words of the prophets, gives me the feeling that this is an apocalyptic setting. ...Like I said, this is not a complete interpretation, just a few impressions. This is my favorite song ever.

  9. anonymous
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    Sep 12th 2011 report

    He was high when he wrote it, so, no real meaning .

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  10. anonymous
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    Jul 5th 2011 report

    know what? it is about humans abusing and depending too much on technology. The "neon god" is the electronic gadgets. People talking without speaking and people hearing without listening means the people today have not feelings or not expressing emotions when they talk, the listening part is somewhat like people today hears words which passes from the left ear and travels to the right ear.

  11. anonymous
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    Jun 15th 2011 report

    ****YOU GOTTA READ THIS****

    STANZA 1
    "Darkness my old friend" refers to peace quiet in contrast to the loud, radical and glaring television, music and media that blossomed the 60's.
    The speaker meditates in: "Ive come to talk with you again". He thinks deeply and reflects

    STANZA 2
    "In restless dreams I walk alone". Illustrates that the speaker a believer in inner peace and tranquility felt lonesome as there few who shared his beliefs. "When my eyes where stabbed by a flash of a neon light that split the night" describes a bright and loud disturbance

    STANZA3:
    The speaker saw a lot of people probably watching television. (because of the neon god in stanza 5) "People talking without listening, People hearing without listening". The people do not truly mean what they say, and people do not take time to understand the real meanings of life.

    STANZA4:
    The man tries to reach out to the young generation trying to tell them to slow down and listen to what nature or God in their inner-selves are telling them. Unfortunately, he was ignored.

    STANZA 5:
    Neon god: maybe television, rock music and hippie culture were as the man percieved negative influences on the society the culture and media of the 60's (up to the 70's) were widely believed by conservatives to be catalysts of dangerous and immoral lifestyles of the youth.
    Prophets: the prophets are pertaining to our conscience and how we ignore them as we spend a lot of time with technology

    MORAL: because of technology (too much technology) we loose our communication to others. that's why it's entitled THE SOUND OF SILENCE.

  12. anonymous
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    Jun 13th 2011 report

    Hello darkness, my old friend---Seeking Hello from the evil one. He has known before and is close to him from time to time whenever he calls upon him.
    I've come to talk with you again --- He has sought wisdom from the evils before. Is still seeking more wisdom
    Because a vision softly creeping --- He has had a specific vision-that came in un-announced and unwarranted under the cover of darkness slipping through the lowly places and as if it were righteous
    Left its seeds while I was sleeping --- Left an impression in his dreams that will grow over time.
    And the vision that was planted in my brain --- The impression will not go away and was planted there to grow.
    Still remains --- Still There. The original vision still repeats itself.
    Within the sound of silence --- In the dream, no sound, it is silent. communication is felt not heard. Spirit world of communication

    In restless dreams I walked alone --- He is there by himself. This is his soul's future. He only has himself to answer for.
    Narrow streets of cobblestone --- This is the narrow pathway to heaven . He started out on the right path.
    'Neath the halo of a street lamp --- On the way he came across light that appeared righteous.
    I turned my collar to the cold and damp --- He turned away from the righteous path and walked toward the spiritually cold places of darkness. This was the false Halo, false light.
    When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light --- He found on his walks a bright false light that that turned out not to be pleasant.
    That split the night --- An un-righteous light a false light coming through the darkness
    And touched the sound of silence --- The light was without sound but had spiritual feeling in his vision

    And in the naked light I saw --- The light was stripped of righteousness
    Ten thousand people, maybe more --- He saw many souls on this path. The number is uncountable.
    People talking without speaking --- no voice but messages come through spiritually
    People hearing without listening --- Complete communication through spiritual darkness
    People writing songs that voices never share --- The music comes through darkness of spiritual feeling and not through direct earthly vibrations. These are dirges in the dark.
    And no one dared --- Spiritual dirges that people do not hear in words.
    Disturb the sound of silence --- Hearing is through the spirit world and placed through thought.

    "Fools", said I, "You do not know --- " I " Is not talking about the writer, but rather the evil one making this statement
    Silence like a cancer grows --- The silence of the evil one is spiritual through the inside just like cancer grows outwardly. Speaking spiritually and as a cancer grows. So does his message
    Hear my words that I might teach you --- The evil one of darkness is speaking spiritually to teach the evil ways.
    Take my arms that I might reach you" --- The evil one wants people to reach out there arm so that he may guide down the path of un-righteous
    But my words, like silent raindrops fell - As from up above or in another plain of existence. The words fall amongst those
    And echoed "repeated"
    In the wells of silence --- The wells are the abyss. The silence of course is the spirit world of communication.

    And the people bowed and prayed --- The souls of people there bow and pray to the false God of light.
    To the neon god they made --- The neon God is a false light.
    And the sign flashed out its warning --- Out of the sign the false God and a reminder to those who followed into the darkness. You now have the truth, but too late.
    In the words that it was forming --- The words in the sign will always be seen.
    And the sign said, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls - Even as you were walking down the path of darkness. The prophets tried to warn you and you did not listen. The truth is revealed, too late.
    And tenement halls" --- The pathway to Heaven. The place that awaits all his people to those who listen, though many did not. The truth revealed, too late.
    And whispered in the sounds of silence --- The place of unspeakable torment.

  13. anonymous
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    Jun 4th 2011 report

    I think the interpretation of looking at it from a society standpoint is correct but how I interpreted it is also from a songwriting standpoint. People talking without speaking people hearing without listning people writing songs that voices never shared. To that means people write lyrics but they don't mean anything and voices never shared because they are just writing them for the sake of writing songs, they don't truely mean anything. The speaker tries to enlighten these 'fools', but they simply ignore him turning their attention to this fake neon god with no substance. The neon god agrees and points where to look, but none of them pay any attention, and without substance, there might as well be the sound of silence.
    I inerpret it this way and it could very well be Paul Simon forshadowing the lack of meaning in music today, which we all know certainly applies. Anyways that is what I think let me know what you do!

  14. anonymous
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    Feb 22nd 2011 report

    This song criticizes the increasing materialistic tendency and modern people's blind faith in 'neon god'. Here, neon god stands for the commercial advertisements flashed with neon lights. Pramod subedi, nepal

  15. anonymous
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    Oct 16th 2010 report

    I think the neon light is a literal neon light, and the gods are the pop culture icons. The "talking without speaking" and "hearing without listening" seems to be like most pointless talk these days. He tries to stop the mindless advance of culture, but those who go against the flow are few and far between, so his words aren't listened to. This is my humble opinion, don't flame me.




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