Yep, I missed Monday again… but I had an excellent reason for it. Originally, I prepared another blog, which will appear next week- on Monday in fact, when I spied a Facebook message from my friend Michael with the song “Sound of Silence” as covered by Disturbed.
Chills, my friends, absolute chills- much to my surprise.
Let’s be honest, the person with the cajones to cover Sound of Silence has to be an idiot. I mean, right? There are songs you cover, a la Dancing in the Streets, and there are songs you leave alone. They’re already perfect, they’re classic, and they are so ingrained in the listeners’ psyches that altering them is an act of sheer lunacy.
Sound of Silence by Paul Simon is an amazing song. It played often in my parents’ home as I grew up. I never imagined another version of it. The Disturbed rendition, released July 2015, hits a nerve though, so dark, as if singer David Draiman truly is speaking to a pervasive dark being, something he has done before and will do again. And with the darkness in our world at this time, this seems only fitting.
The song has meant a lot of things to a lot of people over the years. It’s been tied to the assassination of JFK (it was released just months later) and the myriad of different ways people fail to communicate with one another. Art Garfunkel, who contributed on the lyrics, summed up the song’s meaning as this, “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.”
At this time of year with the New Year’s promise and hope of betterment coupled with people’s tendency to hobble themselves with the mistakes of the past, the song takes on additional pathos. A friend of mine and I once spoke of difference between living and passing time. To be completely engaged and in the moment is entirely separate from marking time toward the weekend, vacation, or retirement. If you are not careful then time has passed you by. People speak of mellowing as one ages and while that is true I would also say that we disengage. We begin to say good-bye to this world long before we physically leave it. The sound of silence intrudes upon the cacophony of the living.
I understand this, the withdrawing. Let’s face it, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says something differently is selling something.” While I would never pick a fight with the Dread Pirate Roberts, I would add this addendum, life is pain and joy. The two stroll hand-in-hand. The razor blade of loss is preceded and followed by the uplifting balm of ecstasy. By the two we know we are truly alive. We love people and they leave us- one way or another, be it death or abandonment, but I would never trade the exuberance of loving to avoid the agony of loss.
Here is the Disturbed version- haunting, chills, kudos. There are new things under the sun.
This year, whether you make a resolution or not, LIVE. Do not disengage. Be present. I do not want to hear the sound of silence. Give me giggles, give me sobs, give me life. Let me feel.
Lyrics to The Sound 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
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
And 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
In the wells of silence