What are your rituals before you write?

When I sit down to write the first thing I do is panic.  “What am I going to write?”  I’ll stress over that for a few minutes. Then I’ll check my email, look at Facebook, the news and reread my last post or two.

Then to focus I’ll often listen to a song on YouTube.  Simon and Garfunkel brings out the poet in my mind so I often start there.  Paul Simon had a way with words that has inspired the poetic side of my mind for years.  Often when I am writing I’ll listen to The Sounds of Silence and my mind slips away from the reality surrounding me and into that place were words swirl and reform.  On a good day these words flow through my fingers into the keyboard to land here on this blog.

There is something timeless in Paul Simon’s words, “Hello Darkness, my old friend,” and onto the end “And whispered in the sounds of silence.”  There is a truth in his narrative and images around light and silence.  It’s a classic use of images – “… turned my collar to the cold …” and steady progression building from darkness to silence.

Recently I stumbled across a cover of this song by the heavy metal band, Disturbed.  Normally I’m not a fan of metal music.  I’ve listened to it, but it’s never something I click on to listen to.  But this time they had a song I loved and I was curious.

I’ve love the original 1964 vision with Simon and Garfunkel’s vocals.  Sung with simple guitars, the haunting song has inspired me for decades.

Disturbed’s version of the song does a number of musical things to the song, but doesn’t change the words.  David Draiman is the lead vocal and sings an octave lower than the original and they added more instruments to the mix – drums, keyboard, more guitars.

Draiman also adds more vocal power to the middle of the song with his voice turning raspy and nearly yelling by the time he gets to “Hear my words that I might teach you.”  His vocal control and range is amazing.  His sensitivity to the needs of the song take the timeless words Simon wrote to a new level of importance.  Disturbed does something great here – taking a classic song to a new level.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been starting my poetry writing sessions with Simon’s words as sung by Draiman.

and that’s how habits shift and new rituals are formed.



Link to both versions:


About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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47 Responses to Habits

  1. That’s a beautiful version of Sounds of Silence by Disturbed (interesting name). I often listen to Anna Elashvili’s Into Silence when I write. No lyrics. It helps to reconnect me to my creative source.
    Hope you’re having a lovely weekend, Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bg says:

    fantastic . its a great version i digg the growl in his voice .hopefully this song is just a gateway song to the rest of disturbs great collection. kindest regards bg 🙂😎🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I watched both those vids in the recent past when on a S & G kick. The song is so great, but the Disturbed guy certainly does look disturbed. Great rendition, nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometimes I dispense with writing altogether – I think our routines otherwise are remarkably similar, in that I constantly return to past posts, if only to try and avoid repetition. I am also a great fan of S & G. My favourite tracks ‘A Simple Desultory Philippic’ and ‘Patterns’ both feature on the ‘Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme’ album, so… Do I listen to music before I write? Not often; the forms are separate – but I do sometimes sketch my characters to give them life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My best writing has been done while listening to music.
    I think the sounds/vibratons somehow organize my wandering mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That guy does have an amazing voice. I can see why you like the newer version too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That song is truly brilliant and I can see how it gives you inspiration. I keep all my travel jottings in one burgeoning Word doc but the hard part for me is choosing which one to post then another idea will come to mind and they all have to wait.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. CJ Hartwell says:

    I confess that I have a bit of fondness for heavy metal, which usually surprises people. My brother had several albums and we’d listen to them after school. So yeah, I liked this version a lot.
    But when it come to what I listen to while writing, I can’t do anything with lyrics, only instrumental. It varies what I choose, lately my CD of choice is the soundtrack to the movie Tree of Life. It has a kind of haunting quality to it that helps me stay focused. (When I find the time to write, that is!)
    Interesting thread of discussion you evoked with this post, Andrew!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Often I find that I start writing by listening but then take the headphones off as I get into the writing. Lyrics can be distracting. I find talking about music gets a conversation going.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow! That was a fabulous version of “Sounds of Silence.” I would never have encountered it had you not posted it. Thanks, Andrew. It’s a keeper.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. George says:

    I don’t usually like covers of classic songs that are favorites of mine, as this was is. But this was pretty cool. Love the way it builds and the contrast of his raspiness to the original silkiness. One of the better covers Ive heard. thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I ran across the Disturbed version of the Sounds of Silence last year and it is on my ‘writing playlist’ as well. I find it to be a very powerful, shake-stuff-up catalyst. Here’s to a new year of the written language and stories for our time.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. timsablog says:

    Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  13. kritsayvonne says:

    Hi and happy New Year. The start of your post sounds like me – however I recognise it as my procrastination. It makes me feel ‘busy’ I guess. Then when all that is done I really have to get on and write. I need the proper sound of silence when I’m in full flow but I can listen to music on be in the same room as the TV when I’m editing/embroidering my work. x

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow! LOVE this version of the song! I can see why it would inspire you.

    Whenever I can grab a few minutes to write, I plop down with my laptop, re-read and edit my most recent pages, and then carry on writing. Nothing earth-shattering, but it gets the job done. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pied Type says:

    Can’t say I liked the Disturbed version of this song. Or maybe I should have listened to it without watching the video. Draiman looks angry, even malevolent. But maybe it’s just me. I’ve never liked covers as well as the originals.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The original will always have a place in my heart. He does look angry, but I listened to an interview with him about this song – he’s a gentle sensitive type. The power he puts into the song is just for the song. And I normally just listen and don’t watch.


  16. Debra says:

    I have loved this version of “Sound of Silence” for about a year, and it’s in my streaming playlist. Disturb’s version of the song was instrumental to a dramatic scene in the television show The Blacklist. It added a dimension that was chilling, and caught my attention to the point where we played the scene over and over until I could finally let it go. I watched The Graduate this week for my NYE treat and as a nod to nostalgia. The classic S & G version is still the best, but in total, the song is exceptional in all forms. I’m glad you shared about Draiman. I know the group, but I didn’t even know his name. I enjoyed hearing about your personal reach for what you might find in writing inspiration! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I found Draiman’s interpretation to be moving – he took a simple melancholy song and transformed by letting the power of the words to come though. Paul Simon’s lyrics have always spoken to me. This new version just added a new element to words I’ve known by heart my whole life – I love finding inspiration in “re imagining” something.


  17. momshieb says:

    I’ve loved Draiman’s version of this song since it first came out (my sons were teens, and into the music of Disturbed.) I love the power and rawness that he brings to what had been simply a gentle, melancholy song to me before.
    As for writing habits, I must admit to a great deal of laziness. I don’t write until the idea hits me; then I simply think things over for a bit as I go through my day. I sit down when I have a chance and out it pours. I am trying to learn some self-discipline, but so far not having much luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Power and rawness really change the feel of the song. I do like how Driaman starts out and builds as the power of the words build. I do try to get some discipline about doing my art (both in wood and words). If I waited for inspiration, I’d only write once every ten years. 😉


  18. I can sing that entire Sounds of Silence from memory. Such a powerful poetic song.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Relax... says:

    Disturbed’s version blew me away. I wonder what Paul Simon thinks. I hope he feels honored.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. JoHanna Massey says:

    Ahh, the just before writing rituals. I imagine they are as varied as the writers and words they help inspire. Listened to this version of “Silence” by Disturbed. Never heard of this young man before or listened to his music and I must say I was totally mesmerized by his voice, video, and response to Paul Simon’s music. Very engaging post Andrew. Thankyou.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Ray V. says:

    That was powerful. What range he has. Thanks for sharing the music as I had never heard of that. And before.

    Liked by 1 person

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