“People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence”
Has a song ever truly gripped you? Where you hear not merely the words but also feel the primitive expression of emotion that so reaches into your soul that it makes you cry? This happened to me the other day, the day coincidentally before the first anniversary of the passing of my once estranged father of over forty years. Throughout the course of the anniversary date, I listened a dozen or more times to the forceful and entrancing cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence by the American heavy metal band – Disturbed. This band is not of my usual musical genre – a discovery of mine via a friend who posted the song on Facebook with the challenge “Try watching this and not feel a shiver”. I took him up on it. If you too are up to the challenge, have a listen …
Like any song, poetry or piece of art, it is up to the individual listening to or seeing the art form to determine for him or herself it’s meaning. This exceptional performance by Disturbed lead singer David Draiman, once a yeshiva boy (religious Jewish student in an institution of bible study) and cantor in-training is an abject dichotomy from American heavy metal supremacy.
To me, this song initially stirred the pain and darkness of a particular silence in my life. And now after playing it over twenty times the stanza quoted above still moves me to tears. Draiman expertly carries the listener through three definitive levels of his beautiful and powerful voice. The introductory segment is soft, melancholy and reflective. The next element is sweet, pleasant-sounding yet he is pleading for something different (see below). In the finale Draiman’s heavy metal voice comes to the fore with overwhelming passion and guttural vigour. I felt I was being lifted up beyond where I was in my despair and towards a future of hope. And while there is no happy ending in the lyrics, my soul becomes energized by the magical sound emanating from Draiman.
For me a song’s lyrics don’t always carry the same weight as the rhythm of the song and the appeal of the singer’s voice – it echoes inside me. To someone of my generation, we know Sound of Silence like few other songs in our collective musical memory. This cover does not change a single word of the original but this is not the same song. And despite the lyrical monotony, Draiman leaves me with hope, anticipation and the self-awareness that I am on the right path.
We all have pain – current or past – in our lives. It is how we deal with it that allows us to continue moving forward with the journey. How do we interpret the song?
“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”
Hope and fear. I hope for a new reality. I fear things won’t change. But I am a fighter and I now have the tools to carry on. Such is life – no guarantees.