If Silence is merely an absence of sound, the title of the song by Paul Simon is contradictory. The lyrics of the song tell us that through empty streets, he walked alone, to the sound of silence. He poignantly expresses his loneliness and his frustration that this palpable silence is caused by the failure of people to listen to one another. Paul Simon movingly sang the song at the tenth anniversary of 9/11, commemorating the fall of the twin towers in New York and consequent death and suffering.
Silence is spoken of in many different ways:-
A “deafening silence” denotes a state of shock or surprise on hearing a piece or news.
There is an “eerie silence”, when our sixth sense is alerted by a disturbing atmosphere.
It is said that “silence speaks volumes”, when a clearly held opinion is withheld.
A “guilty silence” occurs when the perpetrator of wrongdoing, refuses to own it.
In the case of someone accused of a crime, the repetition of the words “no comment”, in effect silence, may be regarded as the withholding of information and increase suspicions of guilt.
The two-minute silence observed on solemn occasions, allows a time for reflection and remembrance of the fallen.
Silence therefore is associated with a description of mood. When someone says that “Silence is golden”, it is an indication that the person values some time to themselves, possibly after too many verbal demands have been made on them!
The mood conveyed by the performance of the song by the band Disturbed, is one of increasing anger that non communicative silences occur, so that the rendition becomes an explosion of rage, rather than the mournful tone of the original recording by Paul Simon.