Nightman Listens To – Sounds Of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel (1966 Series)!

Takes From the Top: Recording Simon & Garfunkel's 'The Sounds of Silence' | Songwriter 101 |

Greetings, Glancers! This one is a surprise. I assumed this would be in the Colin Larkin’s Top 1000 Series instead, but apparently not. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, given that I already listened to Bookends which is considered one of the best albums of all time, but I thought it was muck. I know there’s another one or two albums by them on Larkin’s list I’m going to have to suffer through, and now this one has been added to the mix. Maybe this is the anomaly and I’ll like it. Probably not. I had high hopes for these guys, but Bookends killed it for me. At least I know I like the title track.

The Sound Of Silence: It’s as haunting as beautiful as ever and this is one of the songs which made me think all of their music would be like this. This seems to be a different version than the one I’m used to. The production of this version I’m listening to is rubbish, but I’ll blame the YouTube upload on that.

Leaves That Are Green: A bouncy, near harpsichord start which sounds like wholesome folk fun. That main keyboard or whatever it is piece is lovely, bouncing and climbing and falling. Melodies clear, harmonies sweet, the lyrics are a little hammy and folk trope ridden.

Blessed: A deliberate out of tune string bend intro and more prominent drums give this a heavier feel. The vocals start with a loud shout… this all makes me feel the whole thing is a satirical look at certain religious types. There’s some weird noise stuff going on, couple with the shouting and talking and the string-bend gives it all an unusual tone. So far, it’s much better than Bookends. 

Kathy’s Song: This sounds more like what I was expecting – finger picked `guitar and smooth vocals for a lonesome folk feel. It’s all too rambling for me to truly enjoy – too much of a story than a song, but nothing wrong with it.

Somewhere They Can’t Find Me: A more uptempo song with a more overt rock or jazz feel. The harmonies on this one are a little messy – definitely could have been tightened up. I appreciate the strings and the little extra pieces added to spice it up and it’s different from everything else so far – it’s short, and reminds me a little of The Cure.

Anji: This actually compliments the previous song – there’s a similar down the scale riff. Seems like this is an instrumental. It feels like you could almost sing the lyrics of the previous song over this one.

Richard Cory: Another story. These folk guys sure love writing lyrics about people who don’t exist. This one feel like a Beatles song. There’s a touch of satire in the lyrics, the melodies are rambling and the vocals verge on Dylan-esque at times.

A Most Peculiar Man: Another story. Organ and nice flickering guitar. It’s all very nice while lacking a killer melody. Another lyric touching on suicide. The lyrics get a little silly – just a collection of lines which barely fit the confines of the song’s rhythm. I don’t usually mind that, but here it doesn’t work.

April Come She Will: More sweet finger picking and nice sounds. This is the stuff I like about folk – when it’s gentle with a touch of sadness or something bittersweet, but it needs the melody to back it up. Melodies here just about work while still sounding similar to much of the rest of the album.

We’ve Got A Groovy Thing Goin: Drum intro. Then groovy organ and beats. Better melodies. Marginally heavier. Benefits again by being brief.

I Am A Rock: Subtle guitar intro with soft and clear vocals. What’s it going to build to. That was sudden. Slight Mamas & Papas feel. Nice guitar parts and soft organ backing. The most obvious chorus since the first track.

Thank goodness. That was considerably better than Bookends. That now gives me renewed hope that I’ll like other stuff by the band. This is more like what I expected from the band – simple, gentle folk songs. There is humour in the lyrics and the usual pastoral stuff. The overall word to describe all of this is nice – it’s inoffensive, simple, it’s music to have in the background which no-one is going to be put off by or pay much attention to. Few of the songs have something to tip them into greatness, but there is enough variety that I imagine I’d get more out of a second listen. I also imagine though that I’d get bored with most of the songs only a few listens after that.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Sounds Of Silence.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: The Sound Of Silence. The Leaves That Are Green. April Come She Will. We’ve Got A Groovy Thing Goin.