What I find so intriguing about Passenger’s performance is the organic way in which he covers this classic song; in one take people just walk by, but he keeps on playing, in other take, a crowd of youth actually forms by his feet, and he pauses mid-way in the song to address them for a few seconds. Finally, right before the final verse, he evolves seamlessly into an instrumental coupled with very emotional feet-stomping. The Sound of Silence, from what I understand of it, is a meta-lyrical prophecy of society’s slow but inevitable descent into alienation from oneself, and from one another.
When you see that there are actually people, mostly career-climbers in their mid-30s to late 40s, who simply stream past his beautiful performance as if he did not exist, that in itself is a throwback to the song’s message. But before we go calling them names, we must ask ourselves – if we were in their shoes, with bills to pay, and mouths to feed; will we be as laid back as those university tenants, and college grads, and part-time 20-somethings who can afford to sit back and really appreciate his music? Perhaps such is life, that rather than pointing fingers at another layer of society, we may think of embracing them instead. For if we were caught up in the same hurricane as they for that long, we may ultimately turn out no different from them.
So here I was, pondering about the state of society, about the ‘neon god’ we’ve made and pray to everyday as we check the endless buzzing in our pocket to read the torrents of mail in our cloud-stored inbox – when I heard it. That raw, pure emotion squeezed out through his passionate vocals, that plucked chord in the very last verse that etches a precious mark in even the hardest of hearts and souls. And as the crowd cheered and clapped for this one man’s performance, it dawned on me, that this disease, this cancer of loneliness and selfishness, this curse of blindness and self-absorption, perhaps it is a prophecy that can be undone by each heart-felt song of every singer, by the creative pursuits of every true artist, and by the relentless chasing of the dreams that we believe in. Perhaps by singing it we destroy it, by creating beauty we burst it – the bubble of alienation that seeks to drown us in ourselves. True pursuit of life, of love; it opens our heart’s eyes to everyone around us. How else do I explain that very visceral sense of liberation that I felt at the very end of his performance? And I wasn’t even there in person!
So you too, yes you.
Who knows? Your creation might save someone today!