Music has often been used as a rallying cry for assorted types of people throughout history. Look at a good chunk of the old “folk” songs, you will find that many of them make reference to historical issues, and have been used to build up rebellion. The Scots and the Irish, for example, have used protest songs for hundreds of years – not only aimed at the English, but a lot of the ones remaining are focused on the English. And even when they moved over here to America, many of those immigrants brought their music and their fighting spirit as well. There are MANY folk songs from places where those descendants still live – such as Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.T
But, it’s not just ancient history (as defined by many people as anything over 100 years old), but we had MANY more songs written in the last 100 years as well. The early songs in the Rock movement, pretty much damned near ALL of the Blues and Jazz songs, as well as other African-American based (or influenced by) music (including rap and R&B), much of the “country and Western” music, and the entire protest movement during the 60s and 70s (in which folk music became “cool” again).
In fact, I was raised with many of these songs being mostly what I heard. My parents were HUGE fans of the Kingston Trio. And when I wasn’t listening to them, I was listening to much of the music from the 60s and 70s. So, no big surprise that music – to me – speaks loudly.
The original of this song was done by Simon and Garfunkel, and was written by Paul Simon over a number of months ranging from 1963-64. According to one writer, ‘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.’
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.
“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.
Simon & Garfunkel
Sounds of Silence,
Released October 1964
I think that Disturbed truly does represent this meaning very well in their video. The atmosphere is dark and bleak, and does describe our current world quite well. And its meaning is as true today as it was in the 1960s.
The imagery, including the musicians on one side and the songwriters on the other, also speaks – not necessarily just regarding the music industry.
People are talking, but their words are buzz words, meaningless and as Shakespeare puts it, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player /
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage /
And then is heard no more. It is a tale /
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury /
— Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5)
People are hearing the words of the “other side,” but don’t bother to LISTEN to them.
And again, NO ONE is standing up to break the silence. No one wants to tell the extremists that they’ve gone too far. No one wants to “rock the boat.”
And those of us who ARE speaking up, echo in the silence until our words too become meaningless.