"The Sound of Silence" as written by and Paul Simon....
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 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 dare
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,
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon God they made
And the sign flashed its warning,
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls"
And whispered in the sounds of silence


Lyrics submitted by bugoff

"The Sound of Silence" as written by Paul Simon

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Sound of Silence song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI had always heard this was about the war in vietnam but then there is a funny interview with the monty python crew where someone asked Michael Palin if the dead parrot sketch was about vietnam. Of course the message speaks (eerily) to all of us
    the words I always remember
    Ten thousand people maybe more
    People talking without speaking
    People hearing without listening
    People writing songs that voices never share
    this could apply to totalitarian regime or just the totalitarian regime which is human complacence and mob mentality.

    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you"
    always positive, I have no idea why this sticks with me but its beaten in my brain and still remains

    And the people bowed and prayed
    To the neon god they made
    And the sign flashed out it's warning
    In the words that it was forming
    And the sign said
    "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls"
    Whisper the sounds of silence

    I love this verse it is creepy to me ("neon gods we made" just hits to many chords like reading Farenheit 451 its to real in its imaginings) but the line about the propehts and the subway wall is just so RIGHT the true voices of a silent society are the vandals, the disenters, not that I advocate vandalism for its own sake I just really get this line.

    This song is so chilling in its message, it makes me want to cry and hope for humanity.
    rosewind26on October 22, 2009   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI think that this song is about a struggle to share and exchange MEANINGFUL ideas. The people “talking without speaking” and “hearing without listening” are too afraid to share their deep and personal ideas or consider the ideas of others. A person’s refusal to share or receive meaningful ideas dissuades others from sharing meaningful ideas, which leaves people isolated in their personal bubble of silence. When people are too afraid to open up and disturb their comfortable bubble of silence, all that is left for everyone to see is the neon light — the glaringly obvious and superficial. As for the ending, I think it is an anthropomorphized neon sign warning the silent people that “the words of the prophets”, or ideas that used to be incredibly meaningful, are “written on the subway walls and tenement halls” — are now written in crappy public places alongside posters, dirt, and graffiti. The meaning has been lost. The words and ideas they conveyed are now no more important than any other carelessly scribbled message. And yet, and yet. These important words are also “whispered in the sounds of silence”. I personally like to think this means that, though much of what we blather on about today in school, in the media, with our friends, ect... is not very meaningful, we DO still reach out to one another; people ARE still capable of sharing great ideas (as is required of great philosophers and inventors and builders) even if only in whispers. And perhaps one day, when someone has an idea which is very important to them, they will not feel too intimidated to open up and share that idea or have that idea challenged by someone else’s idea.
    OBGHSSBWon December 10, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationHello 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
    -----
    ~
    Hello Enlightened people,
    To me, this song also represents the improper communication with our mind.
    Our mind is The sound of silence.
    It is ON when you close ur eyes.
    It has to be listened, respected to believe and followed.
    As the writer did, and we get this ultimate song.
    -----

    In restless dreams I walked alone
    Narrow streets of cobblestone
    Beneath 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
    -----
    ~
    Now we open our eyes.
    We look everywhere around us.
    We switch on our TV.
    We get majority of our thoughts from Screens(TV/Movies) i.e. Neon god.
    We fill ourself with thoughts of People, Lifestyle, War, Fashion, Money, Cars,etc.
    This makes our mind ponder to a thought.
    -----

    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 deared
    Disturb the sound of silence
    -----
    ~
    When we watch TV, we find that we try to follow it in our life to completeness.
    We follow it even though its fake and manipulated
    to fulfill some person's financial needs.
    In screens, Actors just speak lines.
    In screens, Actors just hear lines.
    In screens, Actors dont express their actual thoughts.
    Everyone is afraid to touch what one's mind feels like speaking.
    They are mere spectators, powerless and hollow from inside.
    As they dont touch their own mind(sound of silence).
    So we follow them too by being spectators and powerless in our life too.
    We dont touch our what our mind(sound of silence) say.
    ------
    "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
    And echoed
    In the wells of silence
    -----
    ~
    The writer here ask us to act(Hear my words,take my arms).
    Because if we keep only following screens
    and dont listen to our own mind(sound of silence)
    Then we will run after things dictated by screens our whole life.
    We have no idea why we are doing that way and complain till end.
    Because we have no idea what we really want and where our happiness lies.
    Thats why everyday, we feel so hollow inside.
    This hollowness(cancer) grows bigger and bigger.

    But still nobody wants to touch that sound of silence(mind)
    We look out for solution even though every solution is inside us.
    We dont listen, we just hear it.
    and its accumulated in the sound of silence(mind) which we never listen.

    -----
    And the people bowed and prayed
    To the neon god they made
    And the sign flashed out its warning
    In the words that it was forming
    And the signs said the words of the prophets
    Are written on the subway walls
    And tenement halls
    And whispered in the sounds of silence
    -----
    ~
    But still we go on with our screens(Neon god).
    Neon god laughs here and says to the writer
    "Throughtout ages, all the prophets of all the religions have been saying the same things. Earlier it was kings then society, now its screens.
    Their have found their place in outside world only (on walls and books)
    not inside (the mind).
    If they werent successful, where do you stand?
    You will also find yourself at the same place i.e. outside the mind"

    Thats why millions may have listened to the songs.
    Thousands have sung.
    Hundreds have interpreted it.
    But very few will follow it even then.
    We will still follow our neon gods,
    And not listen to our sound of silence.
    Thus this song will hold significance till mankind remains,
    and we will just laugh at this paradox.
    shiningdeadon November 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat, no comments on this amazing song? I still hear this song popping out of my AM radio in 1965 and indelibly etching itself into my very core. This is as close to a perfect song as you can get from an the beginning of the era where the singer-songwriter was king; when there was actually a point of view in a song that could reach people’s ears.

    I am not sure what Paul is trying to say here but it has always had the meaning to me that he is warning the listener that silence/conformity is a dangerous path. This song and thus the message is timeless.
    grogleyon December 28, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti absolutely love this song. i remember my dad telling me about ' these two guys who kick butt at crazy harmonies'. i listened to it n automatically fell in love w/ pretty much all of their songs.
    rude_boyon March 20, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think the singer/songwriter is trying to tell us not to be afraid to stick out and speak our minds, sorta like what grogley says. regardless of the meaning however, it is still a great song
    jkid1190on February 12, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOk, so basically Paul / the narrator has a dream/an idea that strays from the current way of thinking, and everyone else that seems to be portrayed as 'sheep' will not see that his idea is worth any thought (the words like silent raindrops fell). And there's this neon sign that represents like.. mass culture, i see it as television or something. But does anyone get why the sign would be the one to flash the warning that seems to go against the whole 'sheep' concept, where the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls. It seems like the narrator would be the one trying to tell them that, if anyone
    herrouxon September 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIs it saying that the creativity which exists in him exists in most of us but is never expressed or struggles for a voice. We sublimate our feelings in the entertainment world of neon gods. Someone else mentions that vandals are an exception who give voice themselves in the subways. In a way the song is dated to an era when it was harder to get your name in print or on a record sleeve. The internet has become a huge subway wall in which we spray our thoughts and opinions.
    NWNmoonon November 11, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn my interpretation I think Paul was inspired in giving a voice to all the victims of the jewish holocaust... in addition to all those oppressed that still suffer for voicing their opinions.
    IZ001on October 12, 2015   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionThis song was about the things going on at the time, Civil Rights, Vietnam, etc..
    Disturbed remade this song recently and it still has the same weight as it did in 1964, Only in relation to the things going on today.
    ElfnetGamingon March 07, 2016   Link

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