Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

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

Music wasn’t a big deal in the house of my childhood. But when I found a vinyl copy of Simon and Garfunkel mixed in with the Emmylou Harris and CCR, it became a very big deal to me. Using my parents old turntable lying on my bedroom floor, I perched the brittle magical disk on the little pole, and waited for it to drop, aways entranced by the process, as the needle slowly made it’s way over and found the grove. Static and crackle, the needle picking up bits of dust as is scrolled along the near invisible acoustic track- yes, I remember those days.

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
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

Paul Simon says the song is about people being unable to love. I played it over and over. Long ago, my mother leaned against the door of my room with a dishtowel flung over her shoulder and told me that Simon and Garfunkel, and this song in particular, always made her think of me. Even before I discovered it. It still matters to me that she shared her wistful observation- and it helps me understand her better. It must have been confusing for a headstrong, matter-of-fact woman to have a daydreaming, emotional artist for a child. I love her for giving me those small touchstones.

“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

Darkness is my old friend. It’s thick, familiar hands are comfortable and ease my aches. Daylight is harsh and severe, throwing contrast into stark relief, and my eyes sear and shy away. I inhabit the nether-lands, time between day and night, when the sun lowes in the heavy sky and darkness is gently pushing with velvety hands. Make haste, be gone, it’s my turn. Healing happens in the dark. Seeds sprout in the dark. Babies grow in the dark- safe, before they are prepared to meet the light.

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

Now I softly pad around my house while my babies sleep upstairs. This is the darkest period of my life- and despite the occasional scary things in the dark, the darkness is still my friend. Only this time, I’m looking for the pale streaks of dawn, pushing back just as gently on the velvety night, that I know surly will come.

10 thoughts on “Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

  1. I love the way you express your feelings. You have given me fresh perspective today. It may be dark, but the dark can be your friend. And there will come a dawn, stealthily yet steadily.

    May your dawn come quickly.

  2. This is deep good. I revel in S&G, a friend introduced me to them in high school. I took to calling things “groovy” and playing “I Am A Rock” on the jukebox where my friend worked, and in English I made a collage of “Sound of Silence”. I like how you explained the song and made it personal.

    My thoughts are more intense (harder to recover from) at night. In the morning I regain my senses and wonder what I was crying about. When all else fails, hit the hay.

  3. Sometimes I think the ability to watch for the dawn is what shows we’ve grown up since those absorbed teenaged days of intense lyrics analysis. May your dawn arrive soon.

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