Paul Simon performs 'The Sound of Silence' at Ground Zero during 9/11 memorial

And you couldn’t hear a thing around him: American folk hero Paul Simon sang a deeply moving rendition of “The Sound of Silence” at this morning’s 9/11 memorial in Manhattan. He slowed it down right at the beginning and spoke the first few lines as if he were telling everyone a story. It struck the perfect note.

Watch it here:

Simon, if you recall, was the first musical guest after Sept. 11, 2001 and memorably performed “The Boxer” in front of NYC emergency workers.

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  • DRG

    Wow! Haunting.

    • Andy

      Sound of Silence is one of the most haunting songs I’ve ever heard. Hearing it in this instance makes it even more so. I think the crowds reaction says it all.

      • Tom

        When music was great.. Gosh, how I miss that.

      • LMNOP

        @Tom – you are so right.

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      • Mike

        Brilliant and was amazing

    • Pierce

      So beautiful and haunting. Thank you, Paul Simon.

  • bringbackrocky

    Not to quibble with a beautiful rendition but where was Art Garfunkel? Could have been even more haunting had he been included.

    • DRG

      Maybe they aren’t speaking this week.

      • bringbackrocky

        Or maybe Paul Simon’s ginormous ego ruled.

      • Manny

        Not the time or place for mean-spirited comments.

      • Amber

        If we can’t make fun of people, then the terrorists win.

      • Gail

        Shame to read such nastiness. If Paul Simon is arrogant (and personally I have never seen anything to suggest that this is so) it is probably because he is a musical genius. This is HIS song, he sang it stunningly. The man touched the moment beautifully.

      • Bart

        To the @ Amber person, cool down crazy. What on Earth set you off? Perhaps that’s just you being “normal” *shudder*.

      • Tom

        If we can’t respect anything, everybody loses.

    • Harald Korneliussen

      Garfunkel has had trouble with his voice for many years now. Pity, because they had apparently become friends again (after God knows how many breakups).

    • Rushkryptonite

      As of right now Art’s voice is shot.

      • bringbackrocky

        I had actually recently read Art’s voice was on the road to recovery. Never intended my comment about Paul to be more than a joke – sorry folks – but Sounds of Silence was written for 2 voices and it would have been perfect to see the quintessential NYC duo sing this great song together.

  • Barry


    • @ Barry

      Of what? You sound like a raving lunatic.

      • Barry

        ENOUGH of politicians using this day to promote themselves. I know that if I had lost a relative at the WTC, I would mourn in private. I would NOT make myself be part of a political circus. What I do OBSERVE on this day is the memory of my deceased brother who was born on 9-11. No, he didn’t die in the WTC so I don’t walk around wearing a button picture or carrying his photograph for all to see. I just remember him in my heart & in my memories of him.

      • Stevex

        Like Barry, I also choose to honor the memory of my deceased loved ones by yelling at people on internet message boards. They would have wanted it that way.

      • Liv

        You’re very bitter. It’s too bad really. There is nothing wrong with mourning in public, especially when loved ones died in such a public way. I didn’t see anything political about the memorial today. The government finally got something right.

      • Barry

        Thank you Stevex & Liv for being so “understanding”. I guess the government got it right because the Messiah is now in charge of things in Washington, DC. Hopefully, he’ll manage to get that unemployment problem right before his reelection comes up.

      • Marianna @ Barry

        Barry, I’m so sorry for your loss. We all mourn in different ways. I guess I tend to be more like you, holding it privately close to my heart, but if wearing a button or carrying a poster is what gets others through the day without going totally insane from their grief then perhaps we can spare them that indulgence. I would say I’ll pray for you but I don’t know how you’d feel about that, so for now I’ll simply wish you peace.

      • @Barry

        And when your brother died, did you not gather with family and friends and mourn him together? If not, you should try it. It works wonders for most people. 9-11 is a day of mourning for the entire country.

    • Elizabeth

      My children and some of my nicees and nephews attend the same small school where I teach. The other day my four-year-old asked me why her cousins had not yet arrived at school. I explained that they had a dentist appointment to go to and would be at school later. I went on to tell her that she and her sisters would soon be having dentist appointments as well. Armed with that information, she went running off to find her sisters. I over heard her saying, “The Petroviches (cousins) aren’t here because they have a disappointment this morning and we’re going to have a disappointment soon too!

  • CG

    I’ve always loved this song and I find it a fitting tribute to 9/11

  • Barry

    No time for any religious leaders at event BUT time for this bald singer.

    • Asha

      I’m sure that in religious institutions across the country memorials for 9/11 were held this weekend. I don’t think that this event required a preacher man to make it complete. The performances were moving, the crowds mourned, the nation mourned. Don’t lose sight of what the memorial was about.

      • Mephysto

        You’re feeding a troll..

      • Barry

        No, you’re the troll.

    • Eolra

      Well, you see, not everyone is the same religion. Which religions would be included? Which would be left out? How would you feel if YOUR religion got left out? By having a musician sing a touching secular song, ALL citizens can be included in this memorial.

      • Anonymous

        No sense arguing with an idiot.

      • Barry

        Says a person who hides their identity.

      • Trent

        @Barry: If this moment of beautiful, heartfelt music did not touch you in a spiritual way, your so-called faith is a just a posturing fraud.

      • Kate

        @Barry – using your first name only is not much different than a screen name on a posting board, so don’t be so holier than thou, okay? You have some agenda that is bigger than the memorial service – take it to another board.

  • Paul

    Good, but I preferred James Taylor’s “Close Your Eyes.”

    • ollidum

      I couldn’t get though “Close Your Eyes.” That was when I had to stop watching the coverage. Very powerful!

    • Hannah

      The lyrics to “Close Your Eyes” are so beautiful

      • Ren

        The actual title is “You Can Close Your Eyes.”

  • mud

    That was so sad but wonderful.

  • waya

    Very nice.

  • Sina

    I’m not really familiar with his music pre-80’s. This just goes to show how important music is. I don’t know this song but it really moved me. To see the reaction from the crowd was really moving. This was a beautiful performance. The musicans today need to learn to write songs that move people. And know how to sing!

    • googliezoo

      Oh, you should familiarize yourself. My parents always had music from the 60s and the singer/songwriters of the 70s playing so I grew up listening to that music. Most music from the the 90s and on is meaningless. I still like a lot of newer stuff as I’m a bit of of an audiophile, but for songs that actually say something, you can’t do better than the music of the 60s and early 70s.

      • Andrei

        Robert Johnson and Billie Holliday might disagree – “Strange Fruit”, indeed!

    • Ronnie

      How can you not know “The Sound of Silence”? It is one of the most famous songs of all time.

    • LMNOP

      @Sina, it’s nice that you’re opening up yourself to music that was before your time. Paul Simon is a musical icon. His folk music with Art Garfunkel in the 60’s is legendary. The emotion in his lyrics is very powerful, and today was just the latest example of that.

      Go to iTunes & listen to I Am a Rock or The Boxer.

      • Sina

        I will go and listen. I love this song. I never knew he was in a group!

      • Marianne

        @Sina: Guess what else? Paul McCartney was once in a group (actually, a couple) as well. Or don’t you know how he is, either?

      • Sina

        I know who Paul McCartney is. My parents had the Beetles albums you slick sucka. Sorry I don’t know Paul Simon’s music pre-80’s. I just found out he was married to Princess Leia.

  • Tarawa

    How are they going to keep people from drowning in those waterfall pools? I can see drunks falling in, teenagers diving in for a thrill, etc. The new tower is going to be taller than the Empire State building.

  • jfms777

    He is known for his enormous ego. And his cheeks sure looked like he was recovering from the mumps. Regardless–this was a powerful performance, and he deserves thanks and praise for it.

    • Sue1

      If he deserves thanks and praise, then why did you have to criticize him?

  • Elizabeth

    This is one of the best songs ever written and was perfect for the 9/11 memorial service today. I noticed as I was watching this morning how quiet it was and in New York no less.

  • Jack B. . . .

    I like most sane people of this world of ours, are
    sharing America’s sadness and fittingly, after all the
    chaos and fear that that dreadful day brought to NYC and the whole of the USA ,I found Paul Simons
    heartfelt delivery of “The Sound of Silence” most apt. I wish peace to all those families who suffered
    this tragic and terrible loss..We are thinking of you all. . . .

  • Tipper

    I thought the whole thing was just beautiful (and I have to appreciate CBS for being the only one that didn’t broadcast it like a sporting event). What killed me was the flautist that played Amazing Grace, the way it echoed. Can anyone tell me her name?

    • Joyce Pugh — Tallahassee, FL

      Agreed about the coverage! I cycled through the channels after CNN’s “hosts” wouldn’t shut up,and settled on Scott Pelley and CBS because the other networks’ treatment of the ceremony reminded me of Rose Parade coverage!

      And, Paul Simon’s performance and his choice of song were the best among a superlative collection.

    • etm

      Hi Tipper – per CNN:
      “Other musical performances included James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes” and flutist Emi Ferguson’s rendition of “Amazing Grace.” “

  • opus

    The Sound of Silence has always been one of my favorite songs and I was very moned by Paul’s solo rendition of this song. So beautifully done and so appropriate for the event.

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