The Story Behind "The Sound of Sirens"
Fri., Oct. 7. 2016 10:06am EDT
Longtime ApX fans know that we spoofed "The Sound of Silence" before as the "The Sounds of Silas." In fact, we did it twice — an electric version on Radical History Tour in 1994 and an unplugged version on Apol-acoustiX in 2005. So apparently we do a parody of that song every 11 years. :)
But a number of fans have asked why we decided to do it again with new lyrics, and why the Disturbed version? ApX lead singer and lyricist J. Jackson explains:
Actually, ApX alumnus keyboardist Todd Waites loved the new Disturbed version (as did many others — it was a #1 rock radio hit and Disturbed's biggest Hot 100 hit ever — and they're a band with five consecutive albums that have debuted at #1 on the Billboard album chart). He really wanted us to do the song and was willing to do all the instrumentals. Response to the new single has been overwhelmingly positive, even from those who didn't even know Disturbed had a version. Incidentally, you may have noticed that our first parody had the word 'Sounds' (plural) in the title and the new parody has the word 'Sound' (singular). What's up with that?
So I thought maybe God might be leading us somewhere, since we haven't done anything modern in a while, and when one of our musicians wants to do a song and they're going to be the one who does most of the work on the music, I give it careful consideration. Of course, you can't force it. It's like mining for gold — either the parody lyrics are in there or they're not, and you have to dig and see.
As I listened to it, I just didn't think the Disturbed version's mood fit "The Sounds of Silas." And then I got the title, "The Sound of Sirens." I thought about how many of the incidents in the current racial crisis have started with the sound of police sirens and then ended with the sound of ambulance sirens, regardless of who was at fault -- that includes the riots and the actions that led to the riots in the first place.
I had a few other ideas about points I wanted to make -- like the fact that, regardless of skin color, we all bleed red, and Jesus is the Savior of all men regardless of race. And I had three key Bible verses I wanted to include:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
2 Chronicles 7:14
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
I kept praying, and God kept giving me phrases, rhymes, and encouraging signs. My wife can attest to how many times I told her I didn't know if the song was going to work, but she kept encouraging me, even though I didn't feel qualified to address the topic. My fear was that I might write something that would be perceived as naive or trite.
But all I'm doing in the lyrics is trying to point people back to the Lord, who is qualified to address the topic. I really do believe He is the only one who can truly solve the situation. And here's something ironic: I have been reading Billy Graham's autobiography (800 pages!) recently, and just as I was finishing the lyrics, I read this quote in his book: "Hatred and racism are fundamentally moral and spiritual problems." So there you have it.
"When Simon & Garfunkel released the single in late 1965, it was called 'The Sounds of Silence,' but ever since their Greatest Hits album in 1972 it's been called 'The Sound of Silence.' And that's the title that Disturbed used. Another mystery solved."