About The Song

The first recording was an acoustic version on Simon & Garfunkel’s first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, which was billed as “exciting new sounds in the folk tradition,” and sold about 2000 copies. When the album tanked, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel split up. What they didn’t know was that their record company had a plan. Trying to take advantage of the folk-rock movement, Columbia Records had producer Tom Wilson add electric instruments to the acoustic track, and released it as a single. Simon and Garfunkel had no idea their acoustic song had been overdubbed with electric instruments, but it became a huge hit and got them back together. Had Wilson not reworked the song without their knowledge, the duo probably would have gone their separate ways. When the song hit #1 in the States, Simon was in England and Garfunkel was at college.

“The Sound of Silence” was penned by one-half of the folk duo, Paul Simon. The then-21-year-old fittingly found the song while alone in the darkness.

“The main thing about playing the guitar was that I was able to sit by myself and play and dream,” Simon shared in an interview with Playboy (quote via Ultimate Classic Rock). “And I was always happy doing that. I used to go off in the bathroom, because the bathroom had tiles, so it was a slight echo chamber. I’d turn on the faucet so that water would run – I like that sound, it’s very soothing to me – and I’d play. In the dark.”

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Hello, darkness, my old friend / I’ve come to talk with you again, the song begins against a pensive pluck of strings, mirroring Simon’s state at the song’s inception.

“The Sound of Silence” was released on the duo’s debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., but the acoustic album was initially a failure and led to Simon & Garfunkel disbanding for a spell, the former in pursuit of a solo career abroad and the latter in search of higher education.

Unbeknownst to the two, “The Sound of Silence” had perked a few ears and was seeing a fair amount of airplay in certain regions. The song’s producer Tom Wilson decided to rearrange it, adding drums and electric guitars to round out the original acoustics, and in 1965, re-released “The Sound of Silence” as the song we know today.

The new and improved tune was an immediate success, becoming an international No. 1 and leading to the regrouping of Simon & Garfunkel, a partnership that would go on to produce one of

folk’s most enduring songbooks.

“This is a song about the inability of people to communicate with each other,” Art Garfunkel can be heard perfectly summing up the song in the below performance.