In October of 1964, Simon and Garfunkel released their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. The album was subtitled “Exciting new sounds in the folk tradition” – and it went nowhere on the charts, with the critics, or in the public’s consciousness. Art Garfunkel returned to graduate school at Columbia University and Paul Simon moved to England to write and produce for other artists and work on a solo album (writing songs like “I Am A Rock” and “April She Will Come”).
Then, in ’65, a Boston radio station started playing a track from the album, “The Sounds of Silence,” and it generated a lot of listener interest. Columbia Records believed they could have a hit single if only they could electrify the song.
Tom Wilson, the LP’s producer, was in the studio that summer working with Bob Dylan. When he finished the production, he had the studio musicians lay down a new backing track of drum, bass and electric guitar for “The Sounds of Silence.” Columbia released the new version as a single in September.
On Jan. 1, 1966, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 was Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.” Simon learned about the song’s success while in Europe. He returned to the US to regroup with Garfunkel and start work on 1966’s Sounds of Silence album.
Although the original release of the song used the plural “Sounds,” the actual title, according to Simon, is “The Sound of Silence.” Subsequent pressings have corrected the error. The motion picture soundtrack for The Graduate features both versions of the song.