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The inspiring friendship behind one of Simon and Garfunkel’s biggest hits

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AFP

Cerith Gardiner - published on 06/12/22

"The Sounds of Silence" is a testimony to Art Garfunkel's love and sacrifice for a close friend in need.

Over the course of many years, Simon and Garfunkel came up with a number of smash hits. Their most popular songs were mainly written in the 60s, but still resonate today for their melodies and their meaningful lyrics.

Yet, it’s only recently that we’ve been made aware of the meaning behind one of their greatest hits, TheSounds of Silence. And when you discover the compassion behind the song, the next time you listen to it you’ll be even more moved.

In his memoir,Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man’s Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life, Sandy Greenberg revealed how he developed a close friendship with Arthur “Art” Garfunkel at Columbia University over their joint love of music and literature. However, not long after he began college, Greenberg was diagnosed with severe glaucoma that was attacking his optic nerve.

With the news that he would be blind, Greenberg became depressed, abandoned his plans to become a lawyer, and headed home to Buffalo, where he cut himself off from his friends. However, he hadn’t counted on his best friend, Art, dropping everything to turn up at his door and persuade him to return to university, where he assured him he’d stay by his side.

True to his word, Garfunkel accompanied his friend everywhere. He called himself “Darkness” in a show of empathy, and according to a post on Facebook by Grateful Music LLC that has adapted part of the book, Garfunkel would say things like “Darkness is going to read to you now.”

Life turns around

Keeping to his word, the singer-songwriter would adapt his schedule to make sure he would be there for his friend. However, on one occasion, when the pair were at Grand Central Station, Garfunkel announced that he had to leave and left his friend to fend for himself. After a few hours Greenberg managed to get on the right subway, and as he exited the station he bumped into someone and apologized. It was Garfunkel.

His friend had never left his side, but wanted to show Greenberg what he was capable of achieving, and that he could live independently. “That moment was the spark that caused me to live a completely different life, without fear, without doubt. For that I am tremendously grateful to my friend.”

Greenberg not only went on to graduate from Columbia, he headed to Oxford and Harvard and earned more graduate degrees. If you look at his Facebook page you can see that he has a catalog of incredible achievements to his name. And along with an impressive professional life, he also married his highschool sweetheart and is very much a family man.

In fact, on seeing the original post by Grateful Music, Greenberg’s daughter Kathryn commented on the post saying “As Sanford Greenberg’s incredibly proud daughter, thank you for sharing.”

Returning the favor

Interestingly, Greenberg was also able to have a life-changing effect on his friend’s life. When he was studying at Oxford, Garfunkel called him in need of some financial help. Along with Paul Simon, he’d been given the opportunity to make their first album, but needed $400. Greenberg and his wife had the princely sum of $404 in their account and without giving it a second thought, Garfunkel received the money he needed.

Although the first album was a bit of a flop, one of its tunes, The Sounds of Silence, topped the charts the following year. And when you hear the haunting words of “Hello, Darkness, my old friend,” you’ll know exactly to what Garfunkel was referring to: a friendship based on love, compassion, and sacrifice from both parties that remains as solid today as it was all those years ago.

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