…. and then someone posts a link to a song that “Disturbed” covered, majestically, forcefully, and relevantly “The Sound of Silence,” by Simon and Garfunkel. I was this close to shutting down my writing for the morning, getting ready to move on into some kind of useful action for the day like taking a shower and writing Christmas cards, but up pops that post. I don’t know when he saw it, and I don’t know why he chose to post it today, but I only know it affected me this morning as it did the first time I saw it: I cannot sing the song without tears and clenched throat. I imagine myself some kind of “Americas Got Talent” contestant, sturdy in my creative beliefs, but then the music cues and when I try to sing it, everything turns to waterfall, my throat choked with rocks and my soul wanting to heal the rifts, and I croak tears instead of strength. I’m not sure how anyone can sing that song and not become puddle. Simon and Garfunkel recorded the song in 1972. I was four. Did I know what soul was, rifts, waterfalls, pain, passion, or tenement halls were back then? Surely not. But I remember that song, that whole album, along with Andy Williams and Cher, Perry Como, Johnny Cash. You know, my mom and dad never sat us down and said, “Here, boy, listen to this song, it will change your life. This is literature. This is passion, this is what it’s all about!” Music was a background to things like washing dishes or erecting the Christmas tree with Bing Crosby. Loretta Lynn taught me that unless I stood by my man I am not a real woman, because only real women weep for their absent men, shuffling room to room, tears dragging at their cheeks, searching for their dignity, keeping their children in line and dinner on the table because that’s the way it’s supposed to be. (Poetry. Lurking.) And then I started to grow and understand not everyone has my Freedom, and the power in the cry for it!
I am moved to tears this morning because of a song, not because I am sad, but because of power. It’s like the emotion the church wishes it could elicit from me, that eyes-closed, hand gripping dress rapture they wish they could incite from us every Sunday. I read poems, dusty words on a yellowed page by authors nobody cares about, and they push me farther and farther down into disbelief, but so much wanting to believe that I was born with a sword in my hand and the fate of the world lies on my skill, cunning, and resolute in the power that I cannot fail. I laugh in the face of your certainty. Songs like this one, sung on street corners for change in a garbage poet’s voice, lowly, unhelpful, occupying a flash in a rebel’s mind teach me where the real people come from, their songs dark and misunderstood, but they never for a moment waver in their faith and belief in the song. There is hope behind the neon gods we made, and it won’t take much to show it. We just have to keep on keepin on.
PS: Just got back from running errands and played the song again, this time with the window open, mindful of the time, one must not Disturb one’s neighbor after all, and I sang this baby without a catch. Yeah! \m/