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


This song has always haunted me. Like a piece of my past that was a puzzle piece that I had cherished but never fully admired. 

Today, I knew I wanted to do a song lyric. And started hunting and learning. As with any interpretive writing, there are only the author’s speculations on what things were inspirational and what they mean.

An explanation given by Art Garfunkel during a live performance: «This is a song about the inability of people to communicate with each other».

Darkness was a nickname that Art Garfunkel gave himself as he befriended his friend Sanford Greenberg in college. Sanford lost his vision to glaucoma, and dropped out of Columbia University where he attended with Art. Art stayed by his side and inspired Greenberg to return to University, with Art staying by his side, to ensure Greenburg would get through.

One day, Garfunkel told his friend at Grand Central Station that he had to immediately leave for an assignment. Suddenly, Greenberg was left alone in the crowd, completely terrified and not knowing what to do. He somehow managed to get back to the university, bumping into people and things. Greenberg calls it “the worst couple of hours in my life.” At the university, Greenberg bumped into a man who apologized to him. He recognized the voice — it was his friend who had just left a few hours back for an “urgent assignment.”

In fact, Garfunkel had never left Greenberg’s side. He merely lied about it and followed his friend all the way back to the university. Garfunkel wanted Greenberg to realize that he could only be independent when he was truly in charge of his life. It worked and Greenberg became more confident about relying on himself. The two friends graduated from college and went their separate ways.

A few years later, Greenberg received a call from Garfunkel who wanted US$400 to record an album with his musician friend Paul Simon. Greenberg only had US$404 in his bank account but gave all the money to Garfunkel without a second thought. He felt that it was time to repay the kindness Garfunkel had shown to him during college. With the money, Simon and Garfunkel recorded their first album “Wednesday Morning, 3 AM” in 1964. The album turned out to be a flop.

However, one song from the album stood out — The Sound of Silence. In the following year, the song rocketed to the number 1 spot. Though Simon wrote the song, the lyrics to The Sound of Silence are filled with Garfunkel’s compassion as “Darkness,” Greenberg’s “companion” ever since he went blind. This can be seen from the song’s opening lines: “Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.” Simon and Garfunkel went on to have huge careers. As for Greenberg, he became a successful businessman and set up a US$3 million prize to find a cure for blindness.

As best as I and the articles that I read can illuminate, it would appear that this song is about society at large acting in an alienated state of disconnection. It paints a picture of people communicating with very little substance to share. Talking without speaking and hearing without listening reference the day to day meaningless expressions we use in small talk that truly convey nothing of substance or value. That is why when we find ourselves with someone with whom we may have a really deep and meaningful conversation, we blossom inside with a joy that is unattainable in most of our daily interactivity.

In the course of the vague trivialities in which we traditionally communicate, the risk of showing a deep creativity, separate from the norm carries a penalty of alienation from an audience who is lost in the traditional flow of shallow communication. For obvious reasons, this particular theme really strikes the chord with me. Part of the joy of writing every day is to find a voice, and share some thoughts. To stand apart and communicate about things that matter (to me) in hopes that my efforts may make them matter to others as well. Paul Simon regularly writes about how a music industry recycles trendy content in favor of allowing a creative artist to just express themselves in any way that the artist may see fit.

As a result, the inability to share deep ideas and feelings adds to the desensitization to the evil around us. It creates a numbness to the cruelty that is becoming pervasive and silences the voices of reason that are working to instill a much deeper sense of awareness. No one dares to disturb the Sounds of Silence by questioning the status quo. If the individuals of a society do not question the silence, our lack of action, validates the evil instead of calling it out for what it is. (another huge theme in life for me)

Given that this was written around the time that JFK was assassinated, I would have to believe that Paul Simon was reflecting the dazed inability for people to wake up and discover that the Camelot dream had been destroyed in the face of those who are far more evil and immoral. In comparing the silence to a cancerous tumor, Simon creates his metaphor that the only solution must be communication, or the cancer will prevail. Yet, despite the prescribed remedy, the lyrics convey that most of society will not wake up out of their stupor to see the writing on the wall.  Most will fall just as quickly back into silence, preferring fake, passive interactions instead of real ones. Keep in mind, television was only just hitting a majority of homes as this song was released, so mass media was just making its first real foray into the homes of most families around the world.

The message of this song is even more prescient today. The need to shake off the fake media and communicate could not be more important than it is right now.

Happy Sunday!

I decided to send you Pentatonix version of this track, rather than the original. It is so beautiful. I hope you will listen to it!

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 dared

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 out 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 sound of silence

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!