What’s Left This Dark Winter

Disturbed taps into ‘The Sound of Silence’ for the rest of us, waiting for a sign

“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 shared
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence…”

—Simon & Garfunkel

On December 7, 2015, a heavy metal Chicago band named Disturbed did the unthinkable. They righteously covered Simon & Garfunkel’s folk-rock classic, “The Sound of Silence” (Immortalized), and gave us a new and improved, timeless anthem we can hold onto when words fail us.

Listen to the grinding rhythm and raw, beautiful voice of an embattled, embittered people (vocalist David Draiman) — in between YouTube’s incessant surveys and tampon ads — and see if you don’t feel something deep inside crack open.

He sings as if he’s in our heads, tacitly speaking for us, because we dare not risk ridicule, sanction, and worse for ourselves. The gentle piano, sweeping string section, booming percussion…the artistry of it all…softens the blow in a kind of generalized, safe acknowledgement that life can be a bummer sometimes. That’s all.

But that’s not all.

“No one dared
Disturb the sound
Of silence…”

He sings unlike a heavy metal singer. He sings like an innocent choir boy learning the ways of the world, in a hurry, thrust into the spotlight of a rock opera on its last legs, for all of us in the winter of our discontent.

Like he sees through every lie, every injustice, every Narcissist fool drunk on power and willful ignorance.

When he sears through the lyrics, point by point — a modern Shakespearean poet and John, the Baptist, who is not fucking around this time around — you can’t help but feel chills, and maybe courage, coursing through you.

He is railing against the numbed, dumbed-down virtual society we’ve become, devoid of thinking, feeling, caring humanity. He’s railing against the master/slave institutions that have ruled us since time began. He’s railing against our slavish devotion to those masters to do all the thinking, feeling, and caring for us in the name of whatever neon gods we’ve made.

“And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made…”

Disturbed performed this song several years ago. But it’s eerily prescient, as if tailor-made for these unprecedented times, with COVID-19 lockdowns, Big Media’s hourly fear porn, and Big Tech/Big Gov. selectively censoring The Enemy, fostering a civil war, and coercing fearful people to blindly, gladly follow suit. Straight out of a “Black Mirror” episode, where we really are nothing but batteries to TPTB.

Whichever side you’re on, you can’t deny the sense that we don’t feel comfortable speaking our minds, sharing our thoughts and feelings, being real with each other. We watch our mouths, choosing silence over recriminations, judgment, repercussion.

The Sound of Silence.

Nobody thought much of Simon & Garfunkel’s original tune, “The Sounds of Silence” at first — until it reached the people. Radio deejays couldn’t get enough. Columbia Records producer Tom Wilson got wind of this and gave the acoustic tune a little more love, jazzing up the somber occasion with a little drums and electric fire.

The nothing song — on the debut, October 19, 1964 studio album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. — became a monster hit, one that would reunite and define Simon & Garfunkel as the folk rock poets of our time.

I personally can’t stop listening to Disturbed’s version right now. Especially now. And, I know you can’t either.

It’s okay. Your silence is deafening.

Jazz Medium©: Feeling the music, one review at a time.

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