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.
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
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
Within the sound of silence
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
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
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
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
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!
#LitWorld2018GB Update: USA