Simon & Garfunkel are our favorite duo of all time. Their voices, harmonies, and songwriting are exquisite. We can only hope to create songs as beautiful and poignant as theirs someday. Paul Simon’s writing is truly unparalleled.
The Sound of Silence is our favorite song by Simon & Garfunkel. Right from the beginning, it seems like every time we hear or perform this, the simple arpeggiated guitar and haunting “hello darkness, my old friend” lyrics, the song captures us. And though we don’t know what Simon was thinking when we wrote it, there’s a mystery and ubiquitous quality to the lyrics that we relate to (that apparently many relate to), something general yet specific, something for which every good songwriter strives.
Hear the original version here:
We recorded this cover a couple of years ago and decided to release it as a single, with all of the proceeds going to organizations that fight human trafficking. The subject of human trafficking is an interesting one, one we were first introduced to at college. A few years later, Jenny’s good friend started working for an anti-human trafficking organization in D.C. and a year or so after that, we went on tour with Sara Groves, who is passionate about the subject. We seemed to be drawn into it from many different angles, and finally, after praying about an organization to partner with, we felt led to choose one that fights human trafficking.
Human trafficking is an issue that has gained a bit more spotlight over the past few years, which is encouraging. But it still not on everyone’s radar. The fact that there are an estimated 20-30 million slaves in the world today is appauling. That’s more than at the height of the trans-atlantic slave trade. Slavery is illegal almost everywhere in the world. The problem is not necessarily the law, but the justice system in general. If there aren’t courts or police who enforce the law, the law is essentially null and void. What organizations like the International Justice Mission do is partner with local governments to ensure that laws gets enforced.
Somehow this song transports us to contemplate the depth of the darkness of human trafficking. We see hope in, “Hear my words that I might teach you. Take my arms that I might reach you.” But there is also the sad reality that that hope, in one sense, does not always avail – with, “But my words like silent raindrops fell. And echoed in the wells of silence.” The opening line, “Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again” also stirs up in me the striking truth that I have befriended darkness, and I often return to darkness, as those responsible for human trafficking do. It gives me pity for those who enslave the 20-30 million women, children, and even men, because I know they themselves are enslaved; they are living in darkness. They must be brought to justice, but they must also be forgiven if true healing should take place.
When we recorded this, we asked our friends to come over to form a choir. If you listen with headphones, you should be able to hear them speaking “people talking without speaking; people hearing without listening” from 1:34-1:40. They provide a texture suggestive of the “ten thousand people maybe more.” Paul Zimmerman-Clayton played the trumpet to imply a sort of a battle cry, as if to say, “Come join us. Fight the oppressor.” Jenny’s clarinet, entering in verse 2, adds indistiguishable third voice, as sort of an invitation for the listener to lend theirs. Bruno Jones of the Vespers played the upright bass and killed it.
Read more about the song on Wikipedia here: