In today’s episode of “Baseball Related Songs,” we pay attention to “The Sound of Silence” performed by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. This gem is not directly baseball related but through a backdoor, it sure is.
The Sound of Silence is one of those timeless gems. It was part of Simon and Garfunkel’s first album “Wednesday Morning, 3 AM,” which was released in 1964. The album itself flopped but one song stood out: The Sound of Silence.
In the next year, the song rocketed to the top 10 list in the U.S., the UK, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Japan. In 2012, the song was added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress for being culturally important. The song has an interesting story behind it, one that is about Art Garfunkel and his close friend Sanford Greenberg.
According to Greenberg, the song is a tribute to his friendship with Art Garfunkel. The latter sacrificed a lot when Greenberg lost his sight. Both had met in their first week at Columbia University, the Alma Mater of Yankee legend Lou Gehrig. Garfunkel said hi when the two passed each other and before they knew it, both were roommates and they found out they shared a common interest: music and poetry. Both promised to be there for the other when he would face trouble.
When Greenberg lost sight, Garfunkel kept his promise. After Greenberg got depressed and isolated himself, Garfunkel talked him back to Columbia University again. In college, Greenberg was completely dependent on his friend. And Garfunkel changed his life at the university to accommodate his blind friend, helping him with almost everything: walking to class, tending to wounds, walking together in the city, filling out forms for him to name a few. Garfunkel called himself “Darkness” when he was around Greenberg, a sign of empathy toward his friend.
At one point, both were at a train station when Garfunkel said to his friend he had to leave for an urgent assignment. All of a sudden, Greenberg was all alone. He panicked but managed to get back to university, bumping into people on his way to Columbia. Eventually, at the university, someone bumped into him and apologized. It was Art Garfunkel, who in fact had never left his friend but walked near him. It was Garfunkel’s attempt to convince Greenberg that he should be more confident relying on himself.
A few years later, Garfunkel contacted Greenberg with a request if the latter could borrow $400.00, so he and his musician friend Paul Simon could record an album. Greenberg only had $404.00 in his bank account but didn’t hesitate to give them the money as he thought it was time to pay his due to Art Garfunkel.
But what is the relationship with baseball? Well, Greenberg was at a baseball game just a few months after he and Art Garfunkel met. During this game, he noticed that his sight became cloudy. Soon, he could only see darkness. The doctors diagnosed that he was suffering from conjunctivitis and the blindness would soon pass. But it did not. Later doctors found out that glaucoma had destroyed Greenberg’s optic nerves.
Besides that, during the 2022 lockout and during the 2020 COVID-19 season, the silence of the emtpy ballparks was often linked to the beautiful song of Simon and Garfunkel.
The lyrics of “The Sound of Silence” are as follows:
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
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 shared
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
Then the sign said, “The words on the prophets are written on the subway walls
In tenement halls”
And whispered in the sound of silence
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