Just 1 Song – The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America – Part 12

By January 20th, 2020

Blog No 112 

January 21, 2020 

The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America – Part 12

– The Poetry of Our Time –

READING TIME: Just 4 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen
Recipient of Eight National Book Awards.  For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/



Song lyrics are the real poetry of Modern America. The lyrics of our favorite songs roll around in our heads for decades. Almost unconsciously, every day we honor the words of America’s songwriters who said something in that perfect, poetic, or clever way.

Here is Part 12 of my assembled list — done over the last nine years in conjunction with my research for my last series of books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America.  For an explanation about the background of this Best Lyrics project, see below.

To order copies of my books, just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ .

But, now, … The Best Lyrics of Modern America

– From 1957 through 2015 –


Normally, I select some of the great lyrics from each decade —

the Sixties, the Seventies, the Eighties, the Nineties, the 2000’s,  …

But this time.

Just One Song

– Because of Its Echoing Relevance –

The Sounds of Silence was written by Paul Simon when he was just 21 years old. He was still living at home. But in the shared parlance of all generations, he nailed it. The Sounds of Silence joined a number of folk rock songs which were released around the same time and became rock classics – such as Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone and The Times They Are A’Changin’, the Byrds’ Mr. Tambourine Man, and Barry McGuire’s The Eve of Destruction..

The meaning, history, Paul Simon’s writing of the song, and even its true title (The Sound of Silence vs The Sounds of Silence”) have been the subject of much debate and speculation. However, Art Garfunkel once offered that the song was merely about “the inability of people to communicate with each other.” And maybe that is partly why this song still resonates; still seems to be “new” and “relevant.”

Even six decades after this song was written, we Americans still seem to have an almost unique “inability to communicate with each other.” Possibly reading (and for some of us, remembering) these lyrics will help all of us find our way.

The Sounds of Silence

“Hello, darkness, my old friend

I’ve come to talk with you again ….”

. . .

“I turned my collar to the cold and damp

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light

That split the night

And touched the sound of silence.  

And in the naked light I saw

Ten thousand people, maybe more

People talking without speaking

People hearing without listening ….”

“‘Fools,’ said I, ‘You do not know

Silence like a cancer grows ….”

“And the people bowed and prayed

To the neon god they made

And the sign flashed out its warning

In the words that it was forming

And the sign said, ‘The words of the prophets

Are written on the subway walls

And tenement halls’

And whispered in the sounds of silence.”

– – –

Author’s Post Script:

And so it is for us, as well.

Maybe it is time for us to speak up.

Our silence “like a cancer grows.” 

– – –

Explanation and Background of These

“The Best Lyrics of Modern America” Blogs

As noted above, song lyrics are the real poetry of Modern America, and about a decade ago, in 2010, when I started my research for my books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America, I spent much of the initial year assembling, sorting, and selecting those “memorable” song lyrics to be included in my books.

However, I eventually decided that it was necessary to exclude song lyrics from my books. This was done partly in deference to the needs of book brevity and in bowing recognition to the unavoidable subjectivity of making such selections. But it was also done because most songs are almost definitionally “intra-generational” in that they remain the separate and proud province of each generation. They are a part of each generation’s formative and collective memory – but not beyond that.

Nevertheless, as a result of that year of research, I assembled a relatively massive collection of what may be, by some measures of broad consensus, the greatest song lyrics of Modern America.

I have decided to start presenting them here for your remembrance and enjoyment. I confess that this is partly triggered by the fact that I have already done the fun, but painstaking, work of such assemblage. However, these lyrics blogs are also triggered by the fact that America needs – maybe now more than ever — to reach back and enjoy something or, as best said in 1967 by the Beatles in their song A Day in the Life” — “I read the news today, oh boy.”

Thus, starting on October 9, 2018 with Blog No. 83, I have started posting some excerpts of this author’s humble suggestions of The Best Lyrics of Modern America.

– – –

New Blog Feature – The Fancypants Word of the Day

Vainglorious (Adjective; Origin: Latin) 1) Feeling excessive pride or self-importance; 2) Given to over-the-top demonstrations of boastful pride and vanity.

Examples of uses in sentences: “His coworkers didn’t think he deserved the promotion and were irritated by his vainglorious attitude.”

“His vainglorious assertions of success were revealed to be nothing but false claims.”

Get Copies of My Books

Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

Including Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Separate Categories  

— U.S. History, Current Events, and Reference —  

Best prices. Fast shipping. Just go to https://mackwborgen.com/shop/ . All books will be signed by the author and will be shipped within five business days. My books are, of course, also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. and at select independent book stores.

All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical without the prior written permission of the author.

Tags: , ,

This entry was posted on Monday, January 20th, 2020 at 12:06 pm and is filed under American Music, Latest News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.