“Ahhh, what a tune! Sound Of Silence has more melodic, genius, simple power than I ever realized. As the years go by, there’s something extraordinarily hooky about that simple melody – I didn’t know that. I knew it was a good-sounding record when it emerged.
“From a radio contact business in Cocoa Beach, Florida, it became a call-in favorite. It made the promotion man call the home office in New York and say, ‘It’s been a year now, and they won’t quit over this one folky song from a group called Simon & Garfunkel. The album isn’t selling, but this one tune just won’t quit with its appeal.’
“The home office overdubbed electric bass, drums and the electric 12-string guitar, which was the sound of the era if you know The Byrds and Mr Tambourine Man. We were using electric 12-strings that season. They did this while we were away in Europe. I had no power, no creative leg to stand on, so by definition I was just a bemused listener: ‘Whatever the label is going to do, OK, cross your fingers…’ It’s not like I could have a point-of-view like, ‘How dare you! You ruined my record’ – I could never go down that path.
“I heard it and thought, OK, the rhythm slips a bit between the fourth and fifth verses, the overdubs aren’t exactly in sync, but the sound is commercial. Who knows? You can’t figure out the market.
“Now it becomes a giant world-wide hit. What can I say? I knew the song within. It was the sixth song Paul ever wrote. He would come to my apartment on Amsterdam Avenue, where the roaches were in the kitchen, and he’d play me his songs. When he got to this one, I said, ‘Best one yet! If that’s not a commercial hit record, I don’t know what is.’”