31 Best Songs About Silence

After listening to following songs about silence and quiet things in life, you may feel differently about the elusive subject of silence.
Who really knows what silence is? Is it nothing or everything? A question to which our human mind may not be able to find an answer.

1. The Sound of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel

The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel is the most famous song in popular music with the word silence in the title. Originally, the title of the song was The Sounds Of Silence and was later renamed to The Sound of Silence.

Paul Simon attributes the song's success to its simple melody and the words, which are youthful alienation. In an interview with Terry Gross, Paul Simon emphasized that the melody and sound of a song are the prerequisites for people to listen in the first place. Only then are they receptive to the song's lyrics:
"(...) if you don't have the right sound and if you don't have the right melody, it really doesn't matter what you have to say. People don't hear it. They're only availabe to hear when the sound entrances (...)"[1]

For Art Garfunkel, the deep meaning of the song is the inability of people to communicate emotionally with each other, so being unable to love each other. In a Simon & Garfunkel live appearance in a Dutch TV Show from 1966, when he announced the song, he briefly and succinctly summed up the meaning of the song:
"This is a song about the inability of people to communicate with each other, and not particularly internationally, but especially emotionally. So what you see around you is people unable to love each other."[2]

2. Enjoy The Silence - Depeche Mode

In an interview with the American magazine EW (Entertainment Weekly) Dave Gahan also told interesting facts about the music video of Enjoy The Silence.

So the video director Anton Corbijn told Dave Gahan about his idea for the music video. And the idea was that Dave wears a crown in the video, so he is a king, goes everywhere and carries a deck chair with him. At first Dave didn't understand what Anton Corbijn was talking about:
"And I didn't get it at all. But once we started and he showed me the footage I got what he was doing: The man who has everything, but really feels nothing."[3]

3. Silence - Delerium ft. Sarah McLachlan

The original, quieter version of Delerium's Silence best suits the title of the song, so it's not one of the many remixed versions. However, these remixes may have made the song a lot more popular.
The track, which was sung by Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan, is record-breaking in terms of the number of remixes. So stated PopMatters about the song in a review about one of the subsequent Delerium albums:
"Calling “Silence” huge is an understatement on a par with calling The Lord of the Rings an “action flick”; at last count, it’s turned up on at least 100 different DJ mix albums and compilations, (...)."[4]

4. The Way You Dream - 1 Giant Leap feat. Michael Stipe, Whirimako Black & Asha Bhosle

Although the word silence does not appear in the title of the song The Way You Dream, it has an essential meaning in the lyrics.
Because right in the first verse in the song lyrics it says:
"Only Silence remains, (...) have to listen to the silence (...)"

5. Enjoy the Silence - Tori Amos

The fact that cover versions can create something new in musicality is proven by the Tori Amos version of Enjoy The Silence. In an article about the album Strange Litte Girls, which contains cover versions of songs originally sung exclusively by men, Los Angeles Times wrote about the song:
"Her breathless vocals and spare piano gave organic weight to Depeche Mode’s brooding “Enjoy the Silence.”"[5]

6. Our Lips Are Sealed - Fun Boy Three

Our Lips Are Sealed is a song about gossip, lies that are spread, and how to defend oneself against these lies with silence.

This 80s song is a songwriting collaboration between Terry Hall (The Specials, Fun Boy Three, the Colourfield, Terry, Blair & Anouchka, Vegas) and Jane Wiedlin, The Go-Go's guitarist. In 1981 a single of Our Lips Are Sealed was released by the American all-female rock band Go-Go's, and in 1983 the English band Fun Boy Three released their single of the song.

American music magazine Rolling Stone preferred the Fun Boy Three version to the Go-Go's version in an article about the 10 best Terry Hall songs:
"For me, Hall’s sloped vocals, combined with that hybridised baroque arrangement, lend Fun Boy’s version a nuance severely lacking in the 1981 cut. But that’s just me."[6]

7. The Sound of Silence - Disturbed

50 years after Simon & Garfunkel released The Sound of Silence, American metal band Disturbed released a cover version of this famous song. On YouTube, the official music video for Disturbed's version of the song is now not far from 1 billion views.

8. In Quiet Moments - Lost Horizons feat. Ural Thomas

For the song "In Quiet Moments" from the album of the same name, the musical duo Lost Horizons collaborated with soul music singer Ural Thomas.
Lost Horizons consists of former Cocteau Twins band member Simon Raymonde and drummer Richard Thomas, who played in bands like Dif Juz and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Ural Thomas said about the song:
"When I first heard the song, I thought it was such a wonderful thing, both open and calm, with that steady, insistent groove. The chords go from looming to embracing then back again, like a sad, friendly giant."[7]

9. It's Oh So Quiet - Björk

The song It's Oh So Quiet is older than you might think. The song became world famous mainly due to Betty Hutton (released in 1951) and Björk (released in 1995).

The song is about the great contrast in relationship life, about the peaceful silence when you are alone and the exciting, tumultuous emotional states in a relationship. This contrast is also reflected in the music: when it's about the stillness of being alone, the music and singing gets quieter; when it's about the relationship, it gets louder.

10. Silent Life - Bent

Silent Life is a song by English electronic duo Bent and is the fifth track on the album Ariels, released in 2004. In an article about the Bent album Ariels, Resident Advisor music magazine wrote about the track Silent Life:
"“Silent Life” has it’s rich vocals by Simon Mills and earthly textures, (...)."[8]

The lyrics reflect the expectation of the song title, as a silent life is described. The singer describes the silence and the loneliness it brings. He expresses his perceptions of how slowly time passes. But there is also a look back at louder times, when the singer made noise with other people he knew.

11. Quiet Storm - Smokey Robinson

Quiet Storm is the opening song on Smokey Robinson's third album, which has almost the same title, namely A Quiet Storm. In 1975, the American music magazine Rolling Stone wrote in the album review about the almost 8 minutes long album track:
"A QUIET STORM begins with the sound of a summer shower, a flute, tremulous congas and vibes and Smokey breathlessly caressing the words, “Soft and warm, a quiet storm.”"[9]

12. Your Silent Face - New Order

Your Silent Face is one of the earlier works in New Order's band history. The song appeared on their second album Power, Corruption & Lies, released in 1983.

In 2021, The Guardian published New Order's biggest 30 tracks. The Silent Face is pretty much up there in eighth place on that list, and The Guardian wrote about the song:
"A beautiful, stately homage to Kraftwerk – specifically 1977’s Europe Endless – Your Silent Face is one of New Order’s greatest album tracks and an attempt to puncture their sombre post-Joy Division image."[10]

13. Silence - PJ Harvey

In 2019, The Guardian ranked PJ Harvey's greatest songs in an article. Silence made it to number 13 in the list. The Guardian emphasized the beautiful melody of the song, although very few different musical instruments are used:
"(...) there is almost nothing to Silence beyond a simple piano part and a harmonium, but the melody is so beautiful, it undercuts the obsessional, romantically devastated lyrics."[11]

14. Silenced By The Night - Keane

In the music video for the Keane song Silenced By The Night, a young couple in a very good mood can be seen traveling together further distances in the USA by car. In between, the band Keane is shown again and again performing the song. At the end of the video, the mood of the lovers is more serious.

15. In a Silent Way - Miles Davis

In a RollingStone article from November 1969, Lester Bangs rated the track In A Silent Way as the best of the album of the same name. In addition, he wrote:
"(...) a timeless trumpet prayer called “In a Silent Way.” There has always been something eternal and pure in Miles’ music, and this piece captures that quality as well as anything he’s ever recorded."[12]

16. Even In The Quietest Moments - Supertramp

In an article by Billboard magazine with the 10 Best Supertramp songs, the track Even In The Quietest Moments made it to #4 in the list, the following was written about the song:
"The best of Supertramp’s several mini-suites, a pastoral rumination that builds incrementally into a trancey drone before returning to the original theme."[13]

17. Silent Street / Silent Dub - Maximum Joy

The Silent Street Records label was named after the 1981 Maximum Joy song Silent Street.

18. Silent Woods - Antonín Dvořák

Here Antonín Dvořák's Silent Woods is performed by Jacqueline du Pré, who is regarded as one of the finest cellists of all time.

From the Bohemian Forest, Op. 68, B. 182: No. 5, Silent Woods · Jacqueline du Pré.

Composer: Antonín Dvořák

Performer (Cello): Jacqueline du Pré

19. Quiet Eyes - Sharon Van Etten

Quiet Eyes by Sharon van Etten is played during the closing credits of the film Past Lives.

20. A Quiet Moment - Peter Gabriel


21. Quiet Dawn - Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes


22. 4'33'' - John Cage


23. Quiet, The Winter Harbor


24. Silence is Golden - The Four Seasons


25. A Quiet Life - Japan


26. Sons Of The Silent Age - Philip Glass


27. Silence - Matisyahu


28. Silence - Marshmello ft. Khalid


29. Silent Advance - Bryan Rahjia


30. The Silence Has Spoken - Ben McElroy


31. Silent Night - Sinéad O'Connor


References

[1] Gross, T. (2000, December 11). Paul Simon Discusses His Long Career. Fresh Air Archive: Interviews With Terry Gross. https://freshairarchive.org/segments/paul-simon-discusses-his-long-career

[2] YouTube Video 'Simon and Garfunkel News'. (2011, May 25). Simon & Garfunkel - Holland, 1966 - Part 2/2 [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n5s7iEf9OA

[3] Greenblatt, L. (2017, March 23). David Gahan reveals stories behind Depeche Mode’s biggest hits. EW.com. https://ew.com/music/2017/03/23/depeche-mode-dave-gahan-songs-interview/

[4] Hermann, A. (2004, March 3). Delerium: Chimera, PopMatters. PopMatters. https://www.popmatters.com/delerium-chimera-2495879114.html

[5] Appleford, S. (2001, November 17). Amos Covers the Bases - Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2001-nov-17-et-appleford17-story.html

[6] Kemp, S. (2023, April 25). Terry Hall’s 10 best songs. Far Out Magazine. https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/terry-halls-10-best-songs/

[7] DeVille, C. (2021, January 7). Lost Horizons – “In Quiet Moments” (Feat. Ural Thomas). Stereogum. https://www.stereogum.com/2112156/lost-horizons-in-quiet-moments-feat-ural-thomas/music/

[8] Resident Advisor Staff (2004, November 7). Bent - Ariels · Album Review ⟋ RA. Resident Advisor. https://ra.co/reviews/2488

[9] Palmer, R. (1975, July 31). Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-album-reviews/a-quiet-storm-100338/

[10] Petridis, A. (2021, January 7). New Order’s 30 greatest tracks – ranked! The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/jan/07/new-order-30-greatest-tracks-ranked

[11] Petridis, A. (2019, October 11). PJ Harvey’s 50 greatest songs – ranked! The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/oct/11/pj-harveys-50-greatest-songs-ranked

[12] Bangs, L. (1969, November 15). In A Silent Way. Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-album-reviews/in-a-silent-way-181826/

[13] Graff, G. (2017, October 10). Supertramp’s 10 Best Songs: Critic’s Picks. Billboard. https://www.billboard.com/music/rock/supertramp-songs-best-hits-list-7997371/

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