Welcome to Rock of Agers

Welcome to Rock of Agers

Thursday, July 21, 2016

1966: A Great Year in Rock - The Sound of Silence

If you're a long-time music lover, you probably have a favorite music year, a period when the songs stand out for multiple reasons. For me, that year is 1966
In 1966, I was 14 years old and a freshman in the South Jersey high school I attended. 
Although I didn't know it at the time, it would prove to be one of the greatest years for garage rock, a type of music named because bands just starting out would learn and practice these 3- and 4-chord songs, which were relatively easy to rehearse and then perform live at local dances. And most of these bands would rehearse either in the garage or the basement of whatever member had the most tolerant parents.
I should probably add one more thing here. 1966 was the year I joined one of these garage bands as a keyboard player. It's a role I would find myself in off and on for the next 40 years. And even though I'm no longer performing live, I still keep a couple of keyboards set up for my enjoyment in my writing office.
So periodically here in Rock of Agers I want to highlight some of my favorite songs from 1966. I'll tell a little about the tunes and sometimes a little about myself. But more importantly, thanks to YouTube, you can listen to the artists and see if you can hear some of what I and the rest of my generation first heard then.  
 The Sound of Silence - Simon and Garfunkel 

"Hello darkness, my old friend.
I've come to talk with you again".

"The Sounds of Silence," one of the great classics of alienation and people's lack of communication with others in modern-age society, would probably have never made the charts except for the fact that it was re-recorded as a folk rock electric song in 1965 and re-released. It hit #1 on the charts on New Year's Day 1966.

"It (alienation) wasn't something I was experiencing at some deep profound level," songwriter Paul Simon told National Public Radio (NPR). "It's a thought I gathered from some college reading material or something. Nobody's listening to me, nobody's listening to anyone. It was post-adolescence angst and it had some level of truth to it and it  resonated with millions of people."

I think the song contains one of my favorite back-to-back stanzas in all of rock:

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 subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence

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