Marion, South Australia 2016

As I flicked through the car radio channels, my ears pricked up at the sound of something familiar, yet so different. It was Paul Simon’s Sound of Silence by the band Disturbed and in an instant the raw passion of the song ignited my emotions, bringing back memories from distant days.

This is a new version with so much more depth. I felt it pulling me into the hopelessness and helplessness of someone struggling against the cruelties of life. David Draiman has brought out the real drama of this song in such a powerful way. Tears were streaming down my cheeks before I even realised it, and still do every time I hear this version. I couldn’t wait to get home to add the song to my play-list.

Sounds of Silence is one of those songs that has threaded its way through my life from the very first time that I heard it in a surreal setting.

My family and friends were camping in the bush, near Burra, a small town in the mid-north of South Australia  During the evenings we sat on logs around a camp-fire in a dry creek-bed, surrounded by the silhouettes of ghostly gum trees under a clear black sky illuminated with stars that sparkled like diamonds.

A friend had brought his portable record player. Sitting in front of that roaring fire, toasting marshmallows, we were introduced to the songs of Simon & Garfunkel. Those first few words Hello Darkness, my old friend sliced through the night, calling me to attention, and the words vibrated, awakening every sense. The surroundings seemed to intensify the words and my emotions.

As that impressionable young person, hearing those words in the crisp Autumn night air, infused with the faint scent of eucalypts, my world view was enlarged and I heard a new truth. One of despair and loneliness. My  compassion aroused, led me to really listen to people. I would later work with troubled, lost and lonely people.

Although I enjoyed the other songs by Simon & Garfunkel, this was the song that would continue to echo in my heart throughout the years. For me it spoke the truth of our times, of lost, desperate confused people. That night in those surroundings was an idyllic introduction to this song.

My husband entered my life a few years later. He enjoyed playing the guitar and one of his favourite songs was Sounds of Silence. We would sing it together over and over trying to get the depth of emotion we thought the song portrayed. I’m not sure we succeeded in anything but having fun.

Recently, thanks to the generosity of my wonderful son-in-law, I had the great privilege of sitting five rows from the stage for the Simon & Garfunkel  reunion concert in Adelaide. It was an amazing trip down memory lane as I heard their songs again (including Sounds Of Silence),  and yes, I drifted back to that old camp-fire and that dry creek bed.

I am forever grateful for this song. An anthem in my life.  Calling me to look past the exterior of a person and to listen to what they don’t say, to hear the call of their heart and acknowledge it.

Simon and Garfunkel’s folk/rock version awakened my spirit, giving me a new awareness of the world around me.  Disturbed’s heavy/metal rock performance shakes my spirit from apathy, demanding and challenging me to take action.

While I may not be a fan of heavy/metal rock bands, I did not believe anyone  could have brought this song to life again, let alone make it so relevant to today’s society and social issues. Thank you Disturbed, you have taken a great song and made it speak to a new generation in such an awesome way.

Sandy Kavanagh is an amateur writer and storyteller, who enjoys sharing stories with a wider audience. She finds inspiration in music as she pursues her passion for reading, writing, sketching and craft.