7 O'Clock News / Silent Night - Simon and Garfunkel
A few weeks ago, my daughter Hattie asked me to find the best recording of Silent Night. We had as a starting point this short but wonderful version by Simon and Garfunkel. Piece of cake, I thought, but three days later, even including choral versions, I hadn't found anything that even came close to the two New Yorkers' beautiful duet.
I remember, when I first heard this track, I thought that they had ruined it by slowly fading in the US radio news. Sure, I got the simple but clever message, but once you heard it a couple of times, what was left was the irksome thought that you'd prefer it without the news. Which of course is the real point.
Over time the reverse has become more relevant as each year has gone by. Now I'd be lost if the newsreader didn't fade in, reminding us that the world of 1966 is far from the "heavenly peace" of the carol. It ends juxtaposing "heavenly peace" with a reference to the then president:
".....Nixon said opposition to the war in this country is the greatest single weapon working against the US."
So, fifty-three years later, with conflict in Syria, refugees from war and discrimination in Asia and Africa flooding Europe, and members of our own population sleeping rough in the streets in their hundreds, the sad irony of the song is as powerful today as it ever was.