17

The "neon god" is obviously the sign pictured earlier in the song. But why is it a god? The sign is a god because people made it a god ("the neon god they made"). In praying and bowing to the sign, they made it into a god. What the sign represents, though, is harder to answer. Many interpretations I've found have said it represented advertising and TV. ...


10

Some insight can potentially be gained by comparing and contrasting Simon's later song "A Poem on the Underground Wall," in which a graffiti artist's scrawling of a obscenity on the wall of a subway station is described, in deliberately florid language, as the act of a poet. Similarly, if we ask ourselves what is written on "subway walls and tenement halls,"...


7

I don't think the song states or implies an ultimate cause. But the proximate cause is made explicit enough: People talking without speaking, People hearing without listening "What we've got here is failure to communicate." The Sound of Silence is about a culture in which people don't really connect with one another. They may make flappy noises with ...


6

"...The Words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls.." I believe these lyrics, and the rest of the song hinge on the Old Testament in the book of Daniel, 5:1-31. At the banquet of King Belshazzar of Babylonia, the last pagan Babylonian king to rule over the Jews, all are feasting on golden plates and goblets, the sacred Jewish ...


5

Jesus claimed that a prophet is without honor in his own country. Where would you find people without honor in modern cities? In other words, where would you find prophets speaking truth that has the stamp of religious validity? Not in churches, not in the halls of power, not in the media, not on college campuses. No, you should go where the poor go. The Old ...


2

Silence is the absence of sound. The title, then, is a paradox. It's important to understand the historical context of folk rock. The world was recovering from a devastating war, not just physically and economically but psychologically. How do you live in a society that is capable of genocide? What does it mean to be human when members of your species ...


1

I like @CHEESE's answer very much, and will only add that "neon god they made" almost certainly relates to the worship of technology, with the alienating effects suggested by Garfunkel, regardless of what Simon said. Bob Dylan is famous for dismissing meaning and profundity of his work, which is untrue on most levels. Perhaps Simon was taking a cue from ...


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