Song: “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel
Reached #1: January 1, 1966 (their first, for 2 non-consecutive weeks)
So why start with “The Sound of Silence”? Well, I had to start somewhere, and I have a bit of an affinity to artists from my old stomping grounds (Queens, New York). Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are from Forest Hills (home of the US Open for many years), a short drive from where I was born and raised in eastern Queens.
The story of this song is interesting – the stripped-down version I found on YouTube wasn’t the version you are familiar with, but it is closer to the original. The song was an acoustic track at first, but producer Tom Wilson grafted electric guitar onto the version that became the single, and that became the (almost-)title track for the Sounds of Silence album. The song is singular, but the album is plural. I guess that makes sense, right? Well… the song has been both called “Sound” and “Sounds”, although S&G finally did settle on the singular version in later years.
There’s no doubt it’s a beautiful song, even if the lyrics are a bit dense – is Simon (the writer) in favor of the sound of silence, or the sound of protest? It’s also the song that brought Simon & Garfunkel to prominence, after their failed run as “Tom & Jerry” in the late ‘50s.
For eminently personal reasons, my favorite S&G track is “Cecelia”. That’s my mom’s first name. However, when I was doing weekends for an oldies station here in Richmond, I couldn’t just say “this is for my mom”, because S&G’s “Cecelia” is nothing like my mom (I think). “Cecelia” is a tease and a heartbreaker. My mom and dad have been together for about 50 years. (If I’m wrong, I’ll probably never know.)
Tomorrow, there’s just one #1 song to choose from. So I chose it. It’s a little more recent. Oh, say… two years ago? See you then.
Other songs that hit #1 on January 1:
1955* – “Mr. Sandman”, The Chordettes (their first, 4 weeks)
1955* – “Let Me Go, Lover!”, Joan Weber (her first, 5 weeks)
2005 – “Let Me Love You”, Mario (his first, 9 weeks)
*Yes, two #1 songs on the same day. Until mid-1958, Billboard had as many as four separate pop music charts at once, and most sources credit hitting #1 on any of them as a “#1 song”. The Chordettes hit #1 on the Best Sellers and Most Played in Jukeboxes charts, and Joan Weber was #1 on the the Most Played by Disk Jockeys chart. We’ll get back to that a few times over the next 12 months.