If you try to describe the quintessential 1960s duo Simon and Garfunkel, the words “folk,” “pop,” “rock,” and “classical,” and maybe even “easy listening,” are likely to come up. On the other hand, if you are looking for words to explain the music of the band Disturbed, formed in the mid-1990s, you’ll probably get “heavy metal,” “industrial,” and “hard rock.”
However, if you were to take these two groups from the opposite ends of the music spectrum and put them together, what would the result be?
You might have a difficult time imagining such an unlikely pairing—that is until you hear one of the most celebrated covers of the song “Sound of Silence.”
Simon & Garfunkel's 'The Sound Of Silence' To Be Preserved By U.S. Library Of Congress. Click here to read more -…
After “The Sound of Silence” hit number one on the Billboard charts in January 1966 and later appeared in the Academy Award-winning film The Graduate in 1967, it became a touchstone of American popular culture and has remained influential ever since. In fact, in 2013 the Library of Congress chose the song for long-term preservation as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important.”
While the lyrics of the song captured the teenage angst of Simon, who wrote it when he was only 21 years old, and his fellow post-World War II baby boomers, it’s remained popular with succeeding generations who come to back its incredible simple lyrics. As Simon’s musical partner Art Garfunkel said, the song is fundamentally about “the inability of people to communicate with each other.”
This theme is just as big in the metal world, where musicians like lead singer David Draiman of Disturbed often sing about feelings of disconnection and alienation. Just as Simon and Garfunkel did, Draiman and his band use music as a way of waking people up and getting them to notice those around them.
David Draiman, the lead singer for Disturbed, is famous for copious piercings and operatic baritone voice. While the band rose to prominence for its hard alt-metal stylings, Draiman and his bandmates appreciate a wide variety of music. For its 2015 album Immortalized, the band was looking for great material from the past to reinterpret in its own style.
Draiman explained to rock blog Kerrang, “we had spent quite a bit of time grabbing stuff from the 80s, we did ‘Land of Confusion,’ by Genesis, we did ‘Shout’ by Tears for Fears, ‘Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ by U2 […] I suggested we go further back, 60s, 70s.”
That’s when his bandmate and drummer, Mike Wengren, suggested “Sound of Silence,” and the band felt it was the right song.
So how did they end up making a cover of the legendary song?” At first, I thought we were going to do what we typically do with our cover songs,” Draiman said to Kerrang. “Make it more upbeat, more aggressive, more rhythmic, more in-your-face.”
But guitarist and keyboardist Dan Donegan convinced the group to “go in the opposite direction,” and “leave it ambient, ethereal, acoustic, and orchestral, and let the vulnerability of the vocals stand out.”
Great piece from The Wall Street Journal on "The Sound of Silence."
Donegan definitely had the right idea, as the orchestration allowed people to hear just how massive and melodic Draiman’s voice can simultaneously be. Figuring out how to work it in with the band’s other material wasn’t exactly straightforward. “The Disturbed fan base typically reacted in a combination of elation and shock, lots of people were very into it, some people immediately called it a sellout move.”
But the band persevered with their musical version, and before too long, “even the hardcord, staunch, old-school Disturbed fans have come to embrace it.” Meanwhile, the song hit number one on the Billboard Hard Rock Digital Songs chart and crossed over to take the top of the Mainstream Rock charts as well.
The band reached even greater audiences when they were invited to perform the “Sound of Silence” live on Conan in March 2016. Little did they know, amongst the viewers of their performance that evening was the song’s creator, Paul Simon.
While the band was received incredibly well on the show itself, it was nothing to compare with the praise from the singer-songwriter. Just days after the performance, on April 2, 2016, Simon shared the video on his official Facebook page, with the approving comment. “In case you missed it, Disturbed did a wonderful rendition of ‘The Sound of Silence’ on Conan this week.”
Not only did Paul Simon appreciate the way the band had brought his old song to life again, but he also generously signaled fans to Disturbed’s other music. “The S&G cover also appears on Disturbed’s latest album, Immortalized.”
Singer David Draiman, who delivers a soulful rendition of the vocals going from deep lows to loud highs, was equally grateful for the chance to introduce many to the Simon and Garfunkel classic as well as to have folk fans discover his band’s music.
As he told Kerrang, “this was their doorway into our world and as they entered that doorway, they found lots of things they could fall in love with, because of the intensely melodic nature of a lot of what we do.”
Thanks to Topsify for making “The Sound of Silence” the first track on their US Rock Top 40 playlist! Listen to it now: https://open.spotify.com/user/topsify/playlist/1ZF8nLIV8mtVv3UzyjfX1W