The Sound Of Silence As The Sound Of Social Protest

    When I was painting the inspirational art for Rocktasia, The Movie, I had to pick certain Classic Rock songs to illustrate. This made me listen to the lyrics of some songs in a way I never had before. One song I had heard for many, many years but to which I never truly listened was Simon and Garfunkel’s classic The Sound Of Silence.
    I always thought The Sound Of Silence was simply a very poetic lyric about life in New York City and although it certainly seemed placed there with its reference to subway walls and tenement halls, it is actually much more than that.
    One of the pet peeves of songwriters is when the fans or the press try to interpret their songs and invariably get it all wrong. But I believe that songwriters pull from a deeper level of consciousness for the really great lyrics and even though he may have been writing about the break up with his girl friend, subconsciously he used that experience as a metaphor for something much bigger. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Paul Simon explain his lyrics for The Sound Of Silence, although maybe I have and just don’t remember. Maybe my interpretation is exactly what he intended or maybe he’ll say I’m insane. But I have my interpretation and for me at least, The Sound Of Silence has a very particular message.
    The sound of The Sound Of Silence is the sound of the lack of social protest. Simon and Garfunkel started in the early Sixties in a style of folk music being referred to at the time as Protest Music. The Civil Rights Movement, the burgeoning antiwar movement and social protest in general were so much a part of the American political landscape then that it even had been designated its own musical form. The Sound Of Silence decries the fact that not everybody in the country was raising his or her voice in protest. The lack of protest, the lack of social conscience was considered as shameful as the things being protested. The Sound Of Silence is a protest song protesting the lack of protest. As a protest song it would have to be considered the ultimate protest song. Any other subject of protest would eventually become passé but apathy is timeless and thus The Sound Of Silence is timeless and unfortunately, currently topical once again.

Friday Funnies 

No comments:

Post a Comment