Artist: Simon & Garfunkle
Title: Sounds Of Silence
Producer: Bob Johnston
Simon & Garfunkel were an American folk rock duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel. They were one of the most popular recording artists of the 1960s and became counterculture icons of the decade’s social revolution, alongside artists such as the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Bob Dylan. Their biggest hits—including “The Sound of Silence” (1964/1965), “Mrs. Robinson” (1968), “Bridge over Troubled Water” (1969), and “The Boxer” (1969)—reached number one on singles charts worldwide. Their often rocky relationship led to artistic disagreements, which resulted in their breakup in 1970. Their final studio record, Bridge over Troubled Water, was their most successful, becoming one of the world’s best-selling albums. Since their split in 1970 they have reunited several times, most famously in 1981 for the “The Concert in Central Park”, which attracted more than 500,000 people, the seventh-largest concert attendance in history.
The duo met as children in Queens, New York in 1953, where they learned to harmonize together and began writing original material. By 1957, under the name Tom & Jerry, the teenagers had their first minor success with “Hey Schoolgirl”, a song imitating their idols the Everly Brothers. Afterwards, the duo went their separate ways, with Simon making unsuccessful solo records. In 1963, aware of a growing public interest in folk music, they regrouped and were signed to Columbia Records as Simon & Garfunkel. Their début, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., sold poorly, and they once again disbanded; Simon returned to a solo career, this time in England. A remix of their song “The Sound of Silence” was played widely on U.S. AM radio in 1965, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Simon & Garfunkel reunited, releasing their second studio album Sounds of Silence and touring colleges nationwide. On their third release, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966), the duo assumed more creative control. Their music was featured in the 1967 film The Graduate, giving them further exposure. Bookends (1968), their next album, topped the Billboard 200 chart and included the #1 single “Mrs. Robinson” from the film. After their 1970 breakup following the release of Bridge over Troubled Water, they both continued recording, Simon releasing a number of highly acclaimed albums, including 1986’s Graceland. Garfunkel also briefly pursued an acting career, with leading roles in two Mike Nichols films, Catch-22 and Carnal Knowledge, and in Nicolas Roeg’s 1980 Bad Timing.
Official site: http://www.simonandgarfunkel.com/
Sounds of Silence is the second studio album by Simon & Garfunkel, released on January 17, 1966. The album’s title is a slight modification of the title of the duo’s first major hit, “The Sound of Silence”, which originally was released as “The Sounds of Silence”. The song had earlier been released in an acoustic version on the album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. Without the knowledge of Paul Simon or Art Garfunkel, electric guitars, bass and drums were overdubbed by Columbia Records staff producer Tom Wilson on June 15, 1965. This new version was released as a single in September 1965, and opens the album.
“Homeward Bound” was released on the album in the UK, placed at the beginning of Side 2 before “Richard Cory”. Many of the songs in the album had been written by Paul Simon while he lived in London during 1965.
“I Am a Rock”, “Leaves That Are Green”, “April Come She Will”, “A Most Peculiar Man”, and “Kathy’s Song” had appeared on The Paul Simon Songbook, released in August 1965 in England as had another version of the title track. “Richard Cory” was based on a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson, “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me” was essentially a rewrite of the previous album’s “Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.”, “We’ve Got a Groovy Thing Goin'” had appeared on the b-side of The Sound of Silence a few months before and “Anji” was a cover of an instrumental piece by guitarist Davey Graham whom Simon had met in England. Hence the only brand new Paul Simon compositions on the album was “Blessed”.
On March 22, 2013, it was announced that the album will be preserved by the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry, calling it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
The Sounds Of Silence – Obviously the title track. The growing airplay led Tom Wilson, the song’s producer, to remix the track, overdubbing electric instrumentation with the same musicians who backed Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”. Simon & Garfunkel were not informed of the song’s remix until after its release. The single was released in September 1965.The song’s origin and basis remains unclear, with multiple answers coming forward over the years. Many believe that the song commented on the John F. Kennedy assassination, as the song was released three months after the assassination. Simon stated unambiguously in interviews however, “I wrote The Sound of Silence when I was 21 years old”, which places the time-frame firmly prior to the JFK tragedy, with Simon also explaining that the song was written in his bathroom, where he turned off the lights to better concentrate. If you listen to the song you will notice a slight tempo change that occurs in the middle. Your ears do not deceive you, it does occur. The tempo on the original recording was uneven, making it difficult for the musicians to keep the song in time. Engineer Roy Halee employed a heavy echo on the remix, which was a common trait of the Byrds’ hits.
According to friend Al Stewart, “[Paul] was horrified when he first heard it […] [when the] rhythm section slowed down at one point so that Paul and Artie’s voices could catch up.”
Leaves That Are Green – Ever wonder where the Mamas and Papas got the title “All The Leaves Are Brown”, there ya go.
Blessed – Obvious gospel song, but not one at the same time. It’s actually a song about the frustration with religion.
Kathy’s Song – Structurally, the song is a novella. It starts with the image of “rain,” then moves to a conflict between the life a songwriter has chosen and the woman he left behind, then ends with the songwriter comparing himself to the rain he opened with. Struggling to write “words that tear and strain to rhyme,” in New York, Simon misses Kathy, the woman he left behind in England. He had been there, and dated her, then came back to the States to capitalize on the success of the electrified remix of “The Sound of Silence.” Now, he is wondering if he made the right choice. He is trying to write some songs to support the remix in this album here (which is even titled after that song), songs of power and meaning.
Somewhere They Can’t Find Me – This one has an arrangement that is more akin to the British Invasion sound than that of the Greenwich Village folk scene.
Anji – “Anji” (or “Angi”, “Angie” or “On gee”) is an acoustic fingerstyle guitar piece composed and recorded by noted folk guitarist Davy Graham in 1961 and originally released as part of his EP debut 3/4 AD. The piece is one of the most well-known acoustic blues-folk guitar pieces ever composed, with many notable artists covering it, such as Simon and Garfunkel (on their Sounds of Silence album).
Parts of the tune were sampled for the Simon and Garfunkel song “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me”, also on their Sounds of Silence album, opens with the guitar riff from “Anji”.
Richard Cory – The song was based on Edwin Arlington Robinson’s 1897 poem of the same title.The song tells the tale of a Richard Cory from the perspective of one of the men who works in his factory. The factory worker is envious of the advantages and enjoyments available to Cory, believing him (Cory) to be a satisfied man. The last verse of the song ends similarly to the Robinson poem: Richard Cory went home last night and put a bullet through his head. The chorus repeats again after this verse. This signifies that, despite Cory’s unhappiness – explained by his suicide – the worker still “curses his [the worker’s] poverty”, and would still rather be Richard Cory.
Joe South: guitar
Hal Blaine: drums
A Most Peculiar Man – Simon explained the genesis of the song on the Live from New York City, 1967 album: “I wrote this song when I was living in England. The seeds of the song were planted one day when I saw an article in a London paper about a man who had committed suicide. Four lines in the paper … And I thought: ‘That’s a very bad way to go out. Bad eulogy. Four lines.'”
April Come She Will – This is a children’s nursery rhyme being treated here. It’s a good sit and listen song though, the way it is done here.
We’ve Got A Groovey Thing Goin – I could see The Monkees doing this song. It’s just filler, a “just for fun” song and the liner notes even state that.
I Am A Rock – Thematically, the song deals with isolation and emotional detachment. This song was also covered by the likes of The Hollies, The Grass Roots and even The Church (the band, not the institution).