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Sounds of Silence, Simon & Garfunkel

Columbia Records, January 17, 1966

Track Listing: 1. The Sounds of Silence, 2. Leaves That Are Green, 3. Blessed, 4. Kathy’s Song, 5. Somewhere They Can’t Find Me, 6. Anji, 7. Richard Cory, 8. A Most Peculiar Man, 9. April Come She Will, 10. We’ve Got a Groovey Thing Goin’, 11. I Am A Rock

Possibly the hardest thing about growing old (or the best thing perhaps), is the sharp cut of memories slashing like gemstones across the heart. When was it? The first time these harmonies, these aching cries, rose up lonely from a plastic record player on your next door neighbor’s floor? Didn’t a friend of your Mom’s just drive off the road because she just had enough? Wasn’t another friend’s brother sent off to Saigon? Or was it Toronto? Could you truly comprehend back then the real meaning behind those black and white images flickering nightly from a tube-infused TV? Your dad stabbing his salad with a fork during Walter Cronkite at the dinner table? There were firebombings in Mississippi. 215,000 soldiers in Vietnam. 200,000 demonstrators in New York. They sent a space probe to the moon. The kids next door were sniffing glue, and the summers stretched out like hot comet smears across the broken and pathetic town you grew up in. You were too young to know. You never knew. The realization came only later when you said “Ahhh, now I understand,” but you never really did, or ever will so long as you live in this complex and fucked-up world. September we’ll remember. That’s when. The leaves turn to brown. An Island never cries. But you did. Just put on this record.

Put it on a thousand times and it will never sound the same. It is time itself. It is gentle and raging and tormented and beautiful. It is a swelling sea of poetry. It is ageless. It is a moment that lasts like an endless subway ride. Go back. Back before the breakups, the cheesy over-production, the B movies and elevator sounds. Back before bridges and melting cakes in Central Park. Before Saturday Night Live. It is soft and it is silent. It’s lyrics now printed on the crisp pages of university literature anthologies. Death and love run through it like a boiling Mekong Delta, like strange fruit hanging from Southern trees, like presidents shot through the head, communists shot through the stomach, shots rung out through Richard Cory, and believe me baby, we’ve got a really groovey thing going on here, we really do! The signs are on the subway walls. Can’t you feel them? Scribble them red with your palms on the tenement halls, the balconies where dreams and leaders lie broken and dead. Press them into your ugly poetry books. Blessed are the rich at heart. For they shall inherit this sad mess we call the earth.

You are young again. Beehives and Beatles rise up to the sky. They are bigger than Jesus. In a dark and dusty cellar in Greenwich Village two young men in turtlenecks pack a serious crowd. Their voices harmonize like angels. They are friends and the world is theirs. People please bow and pray. The neon gods shine on. How could anything be more urgent or beautiful?