The Sound of Silence is a reflective narrative song written by American Rock singer Paul Simon over a period of several months in 1963 and 1964. This song is developed through 5 stages, where the lyricist emerced his shadow at night(stage 1) and then he walked alone on the street in his dreams (stage 2) till the neon light stab his eyes(stage 3), he found a large crowd of "unconscious" people manipulated by the neon God. He tried to speak, to listen, to teach, to reach(stage 4), but all of the efforts are in vain, only whispers remain(stage 5).
"Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seed while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence."
Here comes the familiar greeting with the slow and soft of music, and the adjective "old" together with the adverb "again" emphasize the familiar feeling of loneness of the lyricist. "Darkness" may suggest the physical environment of the dark room, also the state of mind of the lyricist, maybe the feeling of confusing, alienation...
The the lyricist mentioned the creeping vision. What is the vision? An image? A ghost? Or even a belief? However, the accurate description of this vision seems to be impossible because it just creeping softly, disappearing in a second leaving a seed planted in the lyricist's brain, waiting to come out from the darkness, within the sound of silence.
"In restless dreams I walk alone
Narrow streets of cobble stone
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."
With the drum adding to the, the tone becomes more forceful. And in this stage, the lyrics started his sleeping walk. The scene seems familiar in dreams. In a dark, narrow , endless cobble stone street with the rain falling on the street lamp, a man walked alone, aimlessly, neath the halo of the street lamps. Is he following the guide of that vision? We don't know. But, suddenly, "a neon light" stabbed the lyricist's eyes and split the night. It's so like a lightning. And its colorfulness construes a strong companion to the form darkness. So the Scene changed into the next stage.
"And in the naked night 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 dare
Disturb the sound of silence."
Under the guide of the neon light, the lyricist found ten thousand people maybe more. So the street is filled with people. It seems to imply the all the human beings on the earth. The lyricist pointed out their characteristics:
"talking" without "speaking", "hearing" without "listening", "writing" but never "share", because, they're afraid to do so, to communicate in depth, to disturb the sound of silence. The "sound" means the "talking", the "listening", the "writing", but the "sound" has never conveyed to the receiver because both sides are afraid of the breaking of silence, the truth, the enlightenment.
" 'Fool' 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."
The music in this stage becomes faster, with the angry words from the lyricist. The lyricist tried to alarmed the crowd, to imply the danger consequences of being silence. Like the cancer cells, that can spread rapidly and kill people silently. The lyricist thus want to break the silence, through teaching, through reaching. But still, his words, his efforts were in vain, just like the raindrops, fell into the well and disappear, echoing only the sound of silence.
"And the people bow and prayed
To the neon God they made
And the sign flash out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said "The words of the prophets
Are written the subway walls and tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence."
The crowd, in the lyricist's eyes, are so eager to chase the light of neon, the desires of the commercial world. They bow, they pray, showing their greatest piety, to the neon god, to the fake god, to the neon light formed by their desires. However, the warning started to flash out. Where can people find it? " The subway wall", "the tenement halls", the lyricist answered, two places that is often ignored by people who are busy with their daily routines. In there the real sound, the light of enlightenment whispered.