Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Sounds of Simon

Paul Simon sings for the 9/11 10-year memorial

I thought one of the most touching moments during the recent 9/11 anniversary memorial was Paul
Simon’s playing and singing of “The Sound of Silence”.

His simple and direct rendition brought tears to my eyes. The song somehow seemed to evoke a sense of sadness with its first words—“hello darkness my old friend”. These and the words that follow awakened memories of our shared national tragedies when we did come together and speak words of comfort and compassion.

But as the song continues, the silence begins to take over and grow “like a cancer”.

This lack of connection---the inability to embrace each other with words or even to understand each other has taken over center stage in many of our encounters.

I think the poet of song, Paul Simon captured these dark moments. Hopefully, we can find the courage to cross the abyss and dare to “stir the sound of silence.”

“Fool said I, you do not know, silence like a cancer grows

Hear my words and 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.”

Some links of interest for the fall.

Library of Congress is featuring a September Symposium on Brazilian literature

which is featuring folk poetry called cordel----booklets of poetry illustrated with woodblock images.


  1. Missed you. Thanks for this post. One of my all-time favorite songs, and so apt and moving in this context.

  2. Marielle,

    Glad you're back.Some great music and poetry from Paul Simon.

  3. Also in the movie The Graduate?

  4. Yes Mike, Simon wrote the song in 1964 shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy...and it was featured in the film "The Graduate"in 1967.
    It evokes in me all the turmoil and sadness of the
    60's...and seemed appropriate for a memorial of 9/11 as well as a testimony to our present inability to communicate intelligently and civilly across the abyss of partisanship.