In the spring of 1965, the song began to attract airplay at radio stations in Boston, Massachusetts and throughout Florida. The growing airplay led Tom Wilson, the song's producer, to remix the track, overdubbing electric instruments and drums. Simon & Garfunkel were not informed of the song's remix until after its release. The single was released in September 1965 and the song hit Number. 1 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ for the week ending January 1, 1966, leading the duo to reunite and hastily record their second album, which Columbia titled ‘Sounds of Silence’. to capitalize on the song's success.
The song was a top-ten hit in multiple countries worldwide; among them Australia, Austria, West Germany, Japan and the Netherlands. Generally considered a classic folk-rock song, the song was added to the ‘National Recording Registry’ in the ‘Library of Congress’ for being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically important’ in 2012 along with the rest of the ‘Sounds of Silence’ album.
Simon and Garfunkel had become interested in folk music and the growing counterculture movement separately in the early 1960s. Having performed together previously under the name ‘Tom and Jerry’ in the late 1950s, their partnership had since dissolved when they began attending college. In 1963, they regrouped and began performing Simon's original compositions locally in Queens’. Other famous artists to have covered the song have included ‘The Bachelors’ and ‘Mercy’.
Garfunkel once summed up the song's meaning as "the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly internationally but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other.”
I have practiced Relaxation Training and meditation since the age of 11 years and have been a Relaxation Training Instructor for over 50 years. Working in numerous work environments with thousands of anxious people over the years has merely emphasised the importance of initially preparing the body by slowing down all mental and physical activity. In order to help those who display problematic behaviour to clarify their thoughts, reduce their tension levels, settle emotional disturbance and lower irrational fears, it is a prerequisite that a state of complete quietness and stillness is produced as a starting base. Hence, ‘the sound of silence’ is the only permissible audible distraction allowed into the process of meditation and progressive relaxation.
As a young boy who incurred a horrific accident at the age of 11 years and was unable to walk for 2/3 years after my hospital discharge, I needed to become very competent at closing down my mind to moments of complete rest, both to assist me to regain my walking ability and secondly, to cope with the large amounts of body pain that have remained in both of my legs and lower body ever since.
For a good year after I had regained the use of my legs (after 53 operations of breaking and resetting my legs at the knee), I have been plagued with the constant torment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in my legs, thighs, and pelvic muscles. While this pain has been with me constantly since the age of 11 years, since my 50s, it has hit me with a vengeance and caused me to retire from my job at the age of 52 years on medical grounds as my mobility rapidly lessened.
When I regained my walking mobility at the age of 14 years, I frequently walked daily to ‘Bluebell Woods’ (weather permitting) about one mile in distance from Windybank Estate. Once in the wood, I would make my way towards its centre where I would lay beneath a large oak tree. For about an hour daily, I would totally relax my mind and body.
Within ten minutes of starting the relaxation process, the complete absence of humans and the ‘sound of silence’ would be gently broken as I started to experience the blending of my body with the ground I sank into beneath me. The sounds of Nature around me would become a part of me; my breathing would synchronise with the gentle breeze and my blood level pressure would quietly flow like the passage of the nearby woodland stream. My heart would pulsate with the steady beat of woodland life as I became more and more relaxed. I would hear the twitter of the birds in the tree branches above, sense the scurry of a furry animal racing through the leaves on the ground, and smell the bark of the trees along with the pungent scent of the woodland fern. The heart of Nature could be heard from this ‘sound of silence’ base.
This image became so important to my walking and relaxation improvement that a few years after I joined the Probation Service in 1971, I outlaid £2000 of my own money (an extremely large amount at the time) to have a ‘Relaxation Tape’ professionally produced in a recording studio over a two-week period. The tape had been specifically produced so that the words I spoke in accompaniment to the original music score describing the woodland scene as well as providing instructions to follow that automatically reduce tension, were spoken at the precise breathing rate that a person displays when they drop off to sleep.
This tape is a form of self-hypnosis and was so effective that I was offered £10.000 to sell its copyright, which I declined. I have never sold this tape and since 1973, I have freely given between 5000 and 10,000 copies away to Group members in my relaxation training classes and across the wider community.
The tape is excellent in helping people to relax, to reduce high blood pressure levels and in helping stressful people get to sleep easier and with once asleep to sleep more beneficially so they wake up refreshed. People who should not use this ‘Relax with Bill’ tape include PREGNANT WOMEN: ANYONE WITH A BRAIN DISORDER OR DAMAGE: ANYONE WHO NORMALLY DISPLAYS VERY LOW BLOOD PRESSURE LEVELS (as the relaxation exercises will lower blood pressure further and too low a blood pressure level is as dangerous as too high blood pressure levels). THIS TAPE SHOULD NEVER BE USED WHENEVER DRIVING A CAR OR DOING PRECISION ACTION OF ANY DESCRIPTION THAT REQUIRES FULL ATTENTION.
Anyone freely accessing this tape from my website is advised (if possible) to practise every night in bed before going to sleep (unless your attention is required elsewhere) and once during the day for the next two months. This should become nigh-time practice when you retire to bed for the day as only practise makes perfect. I have practised this scene nightly and most days over the past 64 years. Half an hour practice sessions are enough to send you off to sleep after a month or two. Please bear in mind though that while the Relaxation tape was high tech for its time, it was made 48 years ago!
I still use the imagery that was a part of my daily walks as a boy, especially to cope with high pain levels I get often. I always use this scene to mediate pain whenever I have any operations under local anaesthetic. But please observe those contra-indications I stated earlier regarding the types of people for whom this tape should not be used. It will help with those areas I mentioned and enable you to benefit from ‘The Sound of Silence’.
Love and peace Bill xxx