Paul Simon, ‘Sound of Silence’ Live 2011- Song Review
Simon & Garfunkel's 1965 recording of 'The Sound of Silence' is a timeless masterpiece, an iconic song that floats beyond the constraints of time and space to become a composition holding a gravitas that far outweighs its origins.
Its origins are certainly not insignificant -- it was written by Paul Simon after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, certainly one of the major turning points in our country's social development from innocent teenager to wizened adult.
It was also a ubiquitous piece of our country's cultural fabric; 'The Sound of Silence' is one of the 20 most performed tunes of the 20th century. The entire century.
Paul Simon's solo version recorded at New York's Webster Hall in June 2011, on the other hand, doesn't quite carry that same weight. It's not that the song itself has lost significance, it's just that to hear Simon sing it -- sans Garfunkel, no less -- for probably the 5,000th time in his dignified career, just seems unnecessary.
We're sure that to the people in attendance it was a beautifully stirring few minutes -- just to be lucky enough to catch Paul Simon in such an intimate venue at this point must be an exhilarating experience, and considering the recording made it on his new 'Songwriter' compilation, it's likely one of his better performances in recent years.
'Songwriter,' after all, is a two-disc set curated by Simon himself and spanning his entire career, from his early work with Simon & Garfunkel through to his most recent release, 2011's 'So Beautiful or So What.'
But it doesn't hold a candle to the original 'Sound of Silence,' nor would we expect it to. And while this new recording does nothing to tarnish Simon's legacy, it does serves as a reminder that some songs are best left to be experienced how remember them -- in their original form.
Listen to Paul Simon, 'Sound of Silence' (Live 2011)