13 Of The Best Songs About Silence And Being Quiet

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Silence, or a lack thereof, factors into every aspect of our lives. When the world around us is too loud, we struggle to think or relax. In the quiet of the night, however, we can feel lost and alone.

It can seem as though there is never a perfect balance between sound and silence. This contradiction has fueled music throughout the centuries.

The following 13 of the best songs about silence will force you to reflect on the impact silence has on your life and the world around you. Have fun reading.

1. “The Sound Of Silence” By Simon & Garfunkel

Perhaps the most well-known song that mentions “silence,” “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel, has left many wondering about its meaning. Many believe it is a warning, though the inspiration is unclear. Either way, this song opens itself to various interpretations.

And one way to look at “The Sound of Silence” is from someone’s point of view who experiences isolation. We are surrounded by a lot of people. But sometimes, we feel detached. If you’ll notice from the line “Hello darkness, my old friend,” the singer finds comfort more from darkness than people.

That’s because it’s easier to “talk” with darkness and silence. We know they won’t give us a response, which is better than telling people who are disinterested.

2. “Hush” By Deep Purple

Our next song is one that talks about longing for lost love. Deep Purple released “Hush” in 1968 from their album Shades of Deep Purple.

The lyrics talk about a man whose lost lover is the best woman with whom he had a relationship. He knows she is dangerous, like quicksand, but he cannot forget her. Everyone around him seems to be happily in love, and he wants to feel the same happiness.

This man is so desperate for the woman’s return that he believes she is calling out to him. He pleads with those around him to be quiet, allowing him to hear her.

3. “Silent Shout” By The Knife

Can you imagine how difficult it is to shout without a sound? Swedish duo The Knife probably can in their song “Silent Shout.” It comes from their album of the same name, designed to protest sexism, homophobia, and capitalism.

This particular song tells of a man who struggles to communicate. At first, he is shocked by this difficulty, as he has never had this problem before. He states that he finally understands what it means to be fragile.

Although another person means everything to him, he cannot bring himself to say so. The stress continues to build until he has a dream about losing his teeth, indicating he is afraid of drastic changes. By the song’s end, he is still contemplating whether he should speak his mind.

4. “The Quiet One” By The Who

What is it like to be a quiet person? If you are, or if you know someone, you’ll learn a lot from The Who‘s “The Quiet One.”

The song says that the singer is not a gifted conversationalist like those around him. Others can see him but seldom hears him talk. Sometimes, a person like this appears unapproachable because his being silent can be mistaken for being aloof.

You might be surprised once you get to know the person. To know that he is not who he seems to be. And that you will not hear him if you don’t listen. And the singer claims that he’s not quiet. Just that “everybody else is too loud.”

5. “I Better Be Quiet Now” By Elliott Smith

A beautiful but tragic song, “I Better Be Quiet Now,” follows a man struggling to forget a lost lover. This single by Elliott Smith was released in 2000 as part of his Figure 8 album.

We find the singer wishing to hear her voice, and he wants her to explain her reasons for leaving. Nonetheless, he is met with silence, and he believes he should be quiet. He says, “I’m tired of wasting my breath/Carrying on and getting upset.”

He recognizes that he may have been able to live alone once, but he is lonely because he is accustomed to living with someone. Likewise, he can no longer handle long periods with anything to do. It is too difficult to forget her when he is not preoccupied.

6. “Our Lips Are Sealed” By The Go-Go’s

One way to look at silence is never having to talk. In other words, “Our Lips are Sealed,” as the Go-Go’s song says. But in the real world, there are a lot of people who find a lot of time to gossip and spread lies.

In “Our Lips are Sealed,” the singer acknowledges all those who spread rumors about them and admit they are not surprised. They know that these people are only jealous, and their words are insignificant.

That makes it easier to see right through these people. But the singer has a weapon against them. Silence.

7. “Silence Kid” By Pavement

It’s not surprising that sometimes musicians come up with songs that don’t make sense. Case in point, the American indie rock band Pavement. They have received a reputation for writing meaningless songs. However, “Silence Kid” makes many listeners reflect on their young selves.

A song with “silence” in the title talks about how a young boy feels overlooked by his somehow dysfunctional family. He is considering leaving home, hoping a more accepting environment will allow him to open up and be himself.

At the song’s end, the “silent kid” steps into the spotlight. He finally experiences relief and happiness.

8. “A Quiet Place” By Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters

Many city dwellers can relate to “A Quiet Place” by Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters. In this song, the singer laments about the noisy street on which he lives.

He lists the many things that make sleep impossible. A woman who yells, a radio that plays all night, a couple that argues, a loud cat, and a noisy drunk man. He just wants to leave his street and find a quiet place.

Unfortunately, he does not have any money. He longs for peace of mind and quiet but is unsure where he can go. This is relatable on so many levels. We have felt overwhelmed by our surroundings at some point. Sing along to this rhythm and blues piece to vent your frustrations.

9. “Enjoy The Silence” By Susanna And The Magical Orchestra

First released by Depeche Mode, Susanna and the Magical Orchestra crafted a beautiful rendition of “Enjoy the Silence.” This piece is soft and slow, allowing the desperation to speak for itself.

This song with “silence” in the lyrics revolves around deep and passionate love and a longing to hold onto precious moments. A woman holds her significant other and knows she is holding everything she could ever want or need.

This woman begs for silence. She knows that words could destroy her happiness. Words will not make the moment any more special, but they can harm the relationship. Thus, “words are unnecessary.”

10. “Quiet On Tha Set” By N.W.A.

Singing along to “Quiet On Tha Set” will give you an instant confidence boost. N.W.A. brags about its musical skills and preaches being true to yourself.

This band claims their rhymes are unique, and their songs make people want to dance. Their style is loud, so they never produce soft music. Regardless, they like everything to be quiet after they finish performing.

The band recognizes that some people may not like that they demand quiet after performing, but they do not care. They will earn respect from the people that matter.

11. “Silence In Your Head” By String Cheese Incident

At times, silence can feel overwhelming. Our world can seem empty without sound. String Cheese Incident describes the frustration we feel when the silence is too much in “Silence in Your Head.”

This song describes the little sounds you can hear when it is too quiet. A clock ticking, your heart beating. You feel like a prisoner, trapped by a silence that seems loud.

But more than that, the song tells us that the silence in our heads can get too loud. What it means is that we have too many thoughts. No one knows about them, they’re just in your head. But they demand attention from you.

12. “Sons Of The Silent Age” By David Bowie

Some people have speculated that “Sons of the Silent Age” references Nazi Germany. However, many take it as a comment on society. Let’s see what David Bowie has to say about it.

Bowie seems to be discussing the “sons of the silent age” as ignorant and lazy people. They are silent because they have nothing to say. They act as though they are imprisoned, but nothing keeps them from doing something that matters. When they do act, they cause only war.

These men dream of doing many things. But they never work hard enough to make their dreams come true.

13. “Funeral Blues” By Benjamin Britten

Grief. That’s what “Funeral Blues” is all about. This song by Benjamin Britten was first played for the public in 1936 and was redone as a cabaret song two years later. Although this song is nearly a century old, its theme is timeless.

In “Funeral Blues,” someone important to the singer dies, and she demands silence. She wants the telephone cut off, the dog kept from barking, and the piano not playing when the coffin arrives. She wants the world to mourn her loss as she does.

Her isolation as a result of the death is reflected in the lines, “The stars are not wanted now…/Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.” One can only imagine how sad she is for her to wish for these things.

Summing Up Our List Of Silence Songs

These songs about silence have many layers. As such, they can be difficult to comprehend. Add to that the fact that silence touches our lives in different ways.

Understandably, each person will interpret these songs individually. And that’s okay. Maybe that’s just how some songs are written. For people to interpret them according to what they need.

But by understanding how silence affects our lives, we may learn to find a healthy balance between enjoying silence and sound.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.