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James Blake Covers Paul Simon’s ‘The Sound Of Silence’


James Blake


Some artist know when a tune has been played too many times, others continue to play some songs throughout their career, even though they are probably sick of them. Nevertheless they know this is what their public expect, a several-decades-year-old hit they have played a million times and I am not even exaggerating.

Like many others, Paul Simon falls in this second category, as each time I saw him he played a few oldies, such as ‘The Boxer’, or ‘The Sound of Silence’ during the encore… may be people would have felt robbed if he hadn’t done exactly that! Thus, ‘The Sound of Silence’ is a song that has been played a lot, really a lot, covered many times, used in several movies beside the Graduate, and it nevertheless still interests young musicians? 27-year-old James Blake debuted his own version of the song during his last BBC radio 1 residency, and the UK producer revamped the 50-year-old song with electronica and layered voices. The result is cavernous, cathedral-esque with a big organ-like drone covered by Blake’s kaleidoscopic falsettos; it’s not very modern sounding, rather melancholic and so I guess this version will appeal to many generations.

According to NPR, Justin Vernon performed the track with him, so his voice is part of the blending vocals… but like for the Kanye-West-Paul McCartney collaboration, most of James Blake’s own fans are going to believe it is an original song, and I can’t wait for the ‘Who is Paul Simon?’

So why Paul Simon? It seems to be a mutual appreciation and may be James wanted to thank Simon, who dropped his name in an interview: ‘I hear it a lot because my 18-year-old son is a musician, and he listens to everything,’ said the famous musician in an interview… ‘Quite often he plays stuff for me that he thinks I’ll like. He played something the other day that was really nice, a record by James Blake. I don’t know the title, but it was a very interesting record. He’s 21.’

It was a great plug-in, and James may thank Gabriel Simon!


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