"The Sound of Silence", originally "The Sounds of Silence", is a song by the American music duoSimon & Garfunkel. The song was written by Paul Simon over a period of several months in 1963 and 1964. A studio audition led to the duo signing a record deal with Columbia Records, and the song was recorded in March 1964 at Columbia Studios in New York City for inclusion on their debut album,Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M..
Released in October 1964, the album was a commercial failure and led to the duo breaking apart, with Paul Simon returning to England and Art Garfunkel to his studies at Columbia University. In spring 1965, the song began to attract airplay at radio stations in Boston, Massachusetts, and throughout Florida. The growing airplay led Tom Wilson, the song's producer, to remix the track, overdubbing electric instrumentation with the same musicians who backed Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone". The single was released in September 1965.
The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending January 1, 1966, leading the duo to reunite and hastily record their second album, which Columbia titled Sounds of Silence in an attempt to capitalize on the song's success. The song was a top-ten hit in multiple countries worldwide. Generally considered a classic folk rock song, the song was added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" in 2013 along with the rest of the Sounds of Silence album.
When director Mike Nichols and Sam O'Steen were editing the 1967 filmThe Graduate, they initially timed some scenes to this song, intending to substitute original music for the scenes. However, they eventually concluded that an adequate substitute could not be found and decided to purchase the rights for the song for the soundtrack. This was an unusual decision for the time, as the song had charted over a year earlier and recycling established music for film was not commonly done. With the practice of using well-known songs for films becoming commonplace, "The Sound of Silence" has since been used for other films, such asKingpin(1996),Old School(2003),Bobby(2006),Watchmen(2009), and Trolls(2016).