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THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG
It is one of the best-loved songs of all time. Simon & Garfunkel's hit The Sound Of Silence topped the US charts and went platinum in the UK. It was named among the 20 most performed songs of the 20th century, included in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and provided the unforgettable soundtrack to 1967 film classic The Graduate.
But to one man The Sound Of Silence means much more than just a No 1 song on the radio with its poignant opening lines: "Hello Darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you again."
Sanford "Sandy" Greenberg is Art Garfunkel's best friend, and reveals in a moving new memoir, named after that lyric, that the song was a touching tribute to their undying bond, and the singer's sacrifice that saved Sandy's life when he unexpectedly lost his sight.
"He lifted me out of the grave," says Sandy, aged 79, who recounts his plunge into sudden blindness, and how Art Garfunkel's selfless devotion gave him reason to live again.
Sandy and Arthur, as Art was then known, met during their first week as students at the prestigious Columbia University in New York. "A young man wearing an Argyle sweater and corduroy pants and blond hair with a crew cut came over and said, 'Hi, I'm Arthur Garfunkel'," Sandy recalls. They became roommates, bonding over a shared taste in books, poetry and music.
"Every night Arthur and I would sing. He would play his guitar and I would be the DJ. The air was always filled with music."
Still teenagers, they made a pact to always be there for each other in times of trouble.
"If one was in extremis, the other would come to his rescue," says Sandy. They had no idea their promise would be tested so soon. Just months later, Sandy recalls: "I was at a baseball game and suddenly my eyes became cloudy and my vision became unhinged. Shortly after that darkness descended."
Doctors diagnosed conjunctivitis, assuring it would pass. But days later Sandy went blind, and doctors realized that glaucoma had destroyed his optic nerves. Sandy was the son of a rag-and-bone man. His family, Jewish immigrants in Buffalo, New York, had no money to help him, so he dropped out of college, gave up his dream of becoming a lawyer, and plunged into depression.
"I wouldn't see anyone, I just refused to talk to anybody," says Sandy. "And then unexpectedly Arthur flew in, saying he had to talk to me. He said, 'You're gonna come back, aren't you?' "I said,: 'No.There's no conceivable way.'
"He was pretty insistent, and finally said, 'Look, I don't think you get it. I need you back there.That's the pact we made together: we would be there for the other in times of crises. I will help you'."
Together they returned to Columbia University, where Sandy became dependent on Garfunkel's support. Art would walk Sandy to class, bandage his wounds when he fell, and even filled out his graduate school applications.
Garfunkel called himself "Darkness" in a show of empathy. The singer explained: "I was saying, 'I want to be together where you are, in the black'."
Sandy recalls: "He would come in and say, 'Darkness is going to read to you now.'
Then he would take me to class and back. He would take me around the city. He altered his entire life so that it would accommodate me."
Garfunkel would talk about Sandy with his high-school friend Paul Simon, from Queens, New York, as the folk rock duo struggled to launch their musical careers, performing at local parties and clubs. Though Simon wrote the song, the lyrics to The Sound of Silence are infused with Garfunkel's compassion as Darkness, Sandy's old friend.
Guiding Sandy through New York one day, as they stood in the vast forecourt of bustling Grand Central Station, Garfunkel said that he had to leave for an assignment, abandoning his blind friend alone in the rush-hour crowd, terrified, stumbling and falling. I cut my forehead" says Sandy. "I cut my shins. My socks were bloodied. I had my hands out and bumped into a woman's breasts. It was a horrendous feeling of shame and humiliation. I started running forward, knocking over coffee cups and briefcases, and finally I got to the local train to Columbia University. It was the worst couple of hours in my life."
Back on campus, he bumped into a man, who apologized. "I knew that it was Arthur's voice," says Sandy. "For a moment I was enraged, and then I understood what happened: that his colossally insightful, brilliant yet wildly risky strategy had worked."
Garfunkel had not abandoned Sandy at the station but had followed him the entire way home, watching over him.
"Arthur knew it was only when I could prove to myself I could do it that I would have real independence," says Sandy. "And it worked because after that I felt that I could do anything. That moment was the spark that caused me to live a completely different life, without fear, without doubt. For that, I am tremendously grateful to my friend."
Sandy not only graduated but went on to study for a master's degree at Harvard and Oxford. While in Britain he received a phone call from his friend - and with it the chance to keep his side of their pact.
Garfunkel wanted to drop out of architecture school and record his first album with Paul Simon, but explained: "I need $400 to get started."
Sandy, by then married to his high school sweetheart, says: "We had $404 in our current account. I said, 'Arthur, you will have your cheque.' "It was an instant reaction, because he had helped me restart my life, and his request was the first time that I had been able to live up to my half of our solemn covenant."
The 1964 album, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, was a critical and commercial flop, but one of the tracks was The Sound Of Silence, which was released as a single the following year and went to number one across the world.
"The Sound Of Silence meant a lot, because it started out with the words 'Hello darkness' and this was Darkness singing, the guy who read to me after I returned to Columbia blind," says Sandy.
Simon & Garfunkel went on to have four smash albums, with hits including Mrs Robinson, The Boxer, and Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
Amazingly, Sandy went on to extraordinary success as an inventor, entrepreneur, investor, presidential adviser and philanthropist. The father of three, who launched a $3million prize to find a cure for blindness, has always refused to use a white cane or guide dog.
"I don't want to be 'the blind guy'," he says. "I wanted to be Sandy Greenberg, the human being."
Six decades later the two men remain best friends, and Garfunkel credits Sandy with transforming his life.
With Sandy, "my real life emerged," says the singer. "I became a better guy in my own eyes, and began to see who I was - somebody who gives to a friend. I blush to find myself within his dimension. My friend is the gold standard of decency."
Says Sandy: "I am the luckiest man in the world."
SUMMARY OF ELYSIUM'S PASSAGE
This the first in a series of five Elysium narrations regarding a young British philosopher named James Phillips who finds himself living in an altered state of reality while still remaining on earth.
After experiencing a near-fatal fall while climbing to the summit of a remote mountain in the Andes, James awakens in a new dimension. He soon encounters two mysterious beings who provide him with a very different perspective on the nature of his existence. Over the next year, before his body recovers from the coma, he is challenged to re-examine his understanding about life’s meaning and purpose far beyond anything he previously believed or could believe.
An engaging and sometime surreal adventure with intimations of impending romance, the narrative explores the most important questions about life, death, reality and our ultimate destiny.
The Plains of Elysium (Champs-Élysées) was described by Homer, Hesiod, Virgil and many other poets as the paradisiac afterlife realm reserved for heroes. As the title suggests, this is about a journey through a passage that leads towards Elysium’s exciting realm of existence.
Read a sample press review at https://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/05/prweb15515775.htm
VIDEO INTRODUCTION (ATTEMPT) TO SERIES
The following comments are excerpts from among the first readers including a number of Amazon five star reviews. To read the full reviews, go to READER REVIEWS on www.elysiumspassage.com or directly at https://digitalbloggers.com/arts-and-entertainment/reader-reviews
"A delightful mix of fantasy, reality, conjecture and humour; Mr Meyers draws the reader into the story with a gentle narrative that captures the imagination, leaving one anxious to get to the next page drawing you into his exceptional world.”
"Quietly, gently, and without imposition, the Author unfolds the pages, creating an intricate, interlocking bridge spanning the chasm between mind and heart. Renewing, refreshing, restoring. In my bereavement, it was vigil and light…"
“Excellently written with an exceedingly deep understanding of this world and the next. The characters are very well written and engaging. I can't wait to complete this book!"
“Takes the reader on both a philosophical and spiritual journey, a journey that at times is both disquieting and tranquil. James, a British Philosopher can be irreverent and caustic, traits that should have left me cringing, but instead made me laugh out loud. Elysium’s Passage is a fun, enlightening and remarkable book.”
“This is a masterful fantasy, becoming a real possibility, as the reader is drawn into the story. The Summit leaves you anxious for the next book in the series, yet also leaves you totally satisfied with the world you have just visited. Genius! An exciting, yet calming, experience that is not to be missed."
"There was hardly a page on which I did not find at least one sentence worthy of hi-lighting for future reference. In addition, I thoroughly enjoyed the main character, James, whose personality and passionate verbal exchanges with the other characters, kept me coming back for more. I am reading the book for a second time while I wait for the next one in this series to be made available."
“N.G. Meyers has clearly put a great deal of research and thought into what the afterlife may look like and I like his perspective. It’s an altogether welcoming and exciting vision. The book gives one a great deal to think about and a reassuring confidence that the end of our lives is truly the beginning of life in the next. I highly recommend it."
"I am really enjoying your book, it’s fantastic! It is so incredible and diversified that I can’t really explain it to other people, so what I say is just read this book. Thank you so much for the blessings that you’ve given the world!"
“The humour interjected into a serious discussion makes me laugh out loud. Totally unexpected....l may be in the presence of at least a master, if not a genius. A fair ride into reality... seeking that which is unseen, yet absolutely real.”
“An engaging story of adventure embracing man's deepest desire to search for meaning and purpose, N.G. Meyers takes the reader on an adventurous thought-provoking journey. This book has substance. It is a perfect blend of adventure and fantasy combined with spiritual philosophy. It ignited my imagination. The author magically weaves a good story laced with wit and humour together with deep philosophical wisdom. This book has it all!”
“An evolution in thought is triggered by many fresh philosophical themes which could inspire readers to re-think their reality and former ideologies that have dictated their lives… the author fires readers’ imaginations to view what could be possible when spirit vacates the body.”
“This is the book spiritual seekers have been waiting for. For me, it granted a great read as well as increased inspiration to live every day with a heightened sense of purpose. I highly recommend it.
“The Summit is capable of hooking readers and luring them to search for Book 2 to discover more about Dr. Philip’s surreal trek into the mysterious unknown universe. This thick book is well worth the read and to share…”
“Mind-blowing statements and speculation (‘…everyone is a non-physical thought form conceived in the Mind of God, preserved for all eternity because God’s thoughts never die…’). Many will find Meyers’ journey up the Mountain intriguing—and possibly even life-changing.” (BLUEINK REVIEW)
“In its effort to grapple with fundamental questions about the meaning of life, it raises questions that have echoed throughout the ages, including about where we come from, where we are going, who are.” (CLARION REVIEW)
CONTACT INFORMATION & SOCIAL MEDIA SITES
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/elysiumspassage/ Elysium's Passage Novel Series Elysium's Passage Group page, Elysium's Passage Author's page
TWITTER: Elysium's Passage
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PENDING PUBLICATIONS IN THE SERIES
ELYSIUIM'S PASSAGE: THE SUMMIT is now available for purchase. With the exception of the last novel, the other three have been written but still require more editing before publication.
The following titles in the Elysium's Passage series are projected to be released as follows:
THE SUMMIT available
QUANTUM LEAPS fall 2020
SURREAL ADVENTURES fall 2020
MYSTICAL ROMANCE spring 2021
HE ELIXIR spring 2022
THE RETURN sometime in 2023