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[Poetry Friday] The Poetry in Simon and Garfunkel’s Music As Seen In “When Paul Met Artie”

Hello darkness my old friend...

poetry friday

Myra here.

It is me, once more, joining the Poetry Friday community as we celebrate our theme on art, music, beauty, and everything connected to creativity and aesthetics. Special thanks to Friendly Fairy Tales for hosting this week.

I have to confess that I grew up with Simon & Garfunkel’s music (among others). What can I say? I am old school that way. I was born in the 70s, and grew up with older cousins who adored the meaning, rhythm, and beauty of The Sound of Silence. It made me so happy, then, to find this very recently published nonfiction title of how their creative collaboration came into being in our library.

When Paul Met Artie: The Story Of Simon & Garfunkel

Written by G. Neri Illustrated by David Litchfield
Published by Candlewick Press (2018)
ISBN-10: 0763681741 (ISBN13: 9780763681746)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

The story begins with a crowded park, thousands and thousands of people avidly waiting for the sound of silence played by two friends from New York City. This is their “neighborhood” concert, their moment of homecoming, triumph, and friendship that has withstood betrayal, missed opportunities, multiple failures, near hits-and-misses.

Told in free verse, each full-page spread begins with a title from one of Simon and Garfunkel’s hits, while telling the story of their little town, their friendship from childhood days, and their discovery of each other’s talents.

I am not sure whether it is because I am a huge fan of their music which is why I was so reeled in by the story, but I suspect not. G. Neri managed to highlight important events from these two men’s lives, without resorting to sensationalism. It was factual but very engaging, broken down into manageable snippets that even reluctant readers would want to avidly read and wish to discover. Litchfield’s art was also luminous, portraying the young boys behind the famous musicians.

I was fascinated by their undeniable chemistry, their raw talent, and persistence even as teenagers. However, it was only when they separated, led their own lives, pursued their own respective careers, and found each other again years later that they finally found their distinct voice. It was when they finally had something important to say to the public through their music that their lyrical silences and crystal-clear rhythm burrowed its way into people’s consciousness.

My Poetry Friday offering today is not taken from the book, but culled from the voice of these musicians who have sold more than a hundred million records and won ten Grammys throughout their career. Here’s is one of their absolute hits which happens to be my favourite:

The Sound of Silence
Simon & Garfunkel
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
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 sounds of silence


Here is a video clip of Simon and Garfunkel in their 2009 concert at Madison Square Garden in New York:

And another version – infinitely haunting – by Disturbed. Enjoy!

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

7 comments on “[Poetry Friday] The Poetry in Simon and Garfunkel’s Music As Seen In “When Paul Met Artie”

  1. Looking forward to reading this soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this book!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, this is as much about friendship as it is about creating music… thank you so much for sharing, esp. the Disturbed video. Who know?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Putting this one on my to-read list–I was a big Simon and Garfunkel fan too, and sounds of silence was one of the songs I used to sing to my kiddos at night!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is a beautiful book, told me lots that I didn’t know about this marvelous pair. Thanks for highlighting it, Myra.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Looks like a rich book both in verse and art, I’ll have to look for it–thanks Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kay Mcgriff

    What a beautiful book! And yes, that song is one of my favorites, too.

    Liked by 1 person

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