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Sounds of Silence, The

(Paul Simon)

Song written by Paul Simon which became Simon & Garfunkel’s first hit, released in its single version on 15th June 1965.  By 1st January 1966, it was sitting atop the Billboard chart.

Paul wrote this song as a response to the untimely death of JFK on 22nd November 1963.  It would not appear on an album until 1965’s Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m.  The song was originally intended to be an acoustic folk-rock song, but unbeknownst to Simon & Garfunkel, producer Tom Wilson over-dubbed the original recording behind their backs, laying in electric bass, electric guitar, and drums, then released the new version without their approval.

It debuted on the Billboard chart in September of 1965 and began its dream run to the #1 spot.  If their consent after-the-fact was not overt, it was implied:  The duo had been on the verge of breaking up after their debut album bombed, and after the success of “The Sounds of Silence”, they promptly re-united and recorded and released an album bearing the song’s title, which hit the shelves just as the song hit #1.

It later appeared during the opening credits of Mike Nichols’ 1967 film The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman.

The song was not released in the U.K., but The Bachelors recorded a version that went to #3 on the U.K. chart, on 9th April 1966.  Frida Lyngstad covered it in Swedish, releasing it as “En Ton Av Tystnad”, which translates into “A Note of Silence”, on her eponymous solo debut.

Simon & Garfunkel recordings
Columbia 4-43396 ZSP 111384 (US 45)