Yesterday was an eventful day. I’ll tell you details over the next few days but last night we had the privilege of being able to see Art Garfunkel in concert.
I admit it. I am a child of the 1960s and 1970s and I am not ashamed. When I look at my life which includes 36 years of military service, multiple deployments, two of which were combat deployments I am still basically a anti-war 1960s and 1970s person. Likewise, I believe that in terms of speaking out for the poor, the disenfranchised, the weak, the sick, the elderly, those wounded in war, that all of us have a responsibility as citizens to do our best to alleviate the conditions that do harm to the least, the lost, and the lonely.
One of the songs that was a part of my life back then was The Sound of Silence. It is as hauntingly relevant, maybe more today, than when it was first written and performed by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. As he sang it last night I closed my eyes and listened with tears flowing down my cheeks. I imagined the young Simon and Garfunkel singing it and me listening to it on the LP and on my 8 track cassette tape.
In the age of Trump and Imperial Evangicslism those words are prophetic and etched in my mind especially after my tour in Iraq which changed my life in so many ways.
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
After Iraq I came to know the darkness, and in my most desperate times, the darkness became an old friend, one that I continue to converse with, especially at night and in my dreams and nightmares. I had a particularly violent one of those Saturday night and early yesterday morning. I’ll write about it later in the week.
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
My dreams, even the good ones are restless and in them I am alone and I have visions that are often not for the faint of heart.
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
Before Iraq I did little to disturb the sound of silence, but after Iraq, in the despair, depression, and discombobulating of PTSD, I found that I must speak, or perhaps perish.
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
I have found that many people are content to talk without speaking, hear without listening, write songs that voices never share, because they are all too willing not to disturb the sound of silence.
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
And the people in the churches bow and pray, to the inauthentic god they made, a god that they fashioned in their image, one that on occasion might resemble that of the Bible, the Torah, or the Koran, but which is far removed from an conception of truth.
Garfunkel sang a couple of songs and after that concluding with a variation the nighttime prayer that I learned as a child, one that I actually find more comforting than the one I learned, and one that I pray will take me through each night.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Guide me safely through the night,
Wake me with the morning light.
I am glad that we got the chance to see this amazing American troubadour; to hear his songs, and listen to his stories and poems. He is a treasure. So until tomorrow.