On March 10, 1964, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel recorded “The Sound of Silence” as an acoustic duo. The all-acoustic version of the song was included on their debut album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. and was considered a commercial failure until some late night radio stations began to play the song in 1965. When the song’s producer, Tom Wilson, realized this, he felt that the song could be a hit if some rock instruments were overdubbed onto the recording, to capitalize on the newly popular folk-rock sound of the Byrds. The new instruments were added onto the original recording, and it was released as a single in September 1965. By January it had knocked the Beatles out of the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts. Neither Simon or Garfunkel, who had split up because of their album’s failure, were told of the song’s remix and re-release, and only learned of it when they saw it in a copy of Billboard magazine. The duo quickly reunited to continue their recording career, launching a series of classic albums and songs. Compare the two versions below.
Jessica Wheeler is a columnist for AliveTampaBay.