In his latest Advertiser column, the Rev Ian Miller writes about the story behind one of the 20th century's best known popular songs...

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“Hello darkness, my old friend.” Everybody knows the song, but do you know the story behind it?

It began when Art Garfunkel met a student named Sandy Greenberg as they enrolled at university. They became best friends sharing their mutual passion for literature and music. They promised to be there for each other no matter what.

Soon after starting out at university, Sandy received the devastating news that glaucoma was destroying his optic nerves. The young man would soon be blind. He gave up his dream of becoming a lawyer and moved back home and cut off contact with his old friends, refusing to answer letters or return phone calls.

Then Art showed up at his house. He was not going to allow his friend to give up on life. He convinced Sandy to give university another go, and promised that he would be right by his side.

Art kept his promise, effectively serving as Sandy’s eyes. It was important to Art that even though Sandy lived in a world of darkness, he should never feel alone.

Art actually started calling himself “Darkness”. He’d say things like, “Darkness is going to read to you now.” Art organized his life around Sandy.

One day, however, he left his friend alone and scared in Grand Central Station in New York. After two painful hours he finally got on the right subway train. Exiting his destination he bumped into someone who quickly apologised - and Sandy recognized Art’s voice.

Art had followed him the whole way home, making sure he was safe and giving him the gift of independence. Sandy later said: “That moment was the spark that caused me to live a completely different life, without fear, without doubt. For that I am grateful to my friend.”

Sandy was to graduate from Columbia, Harvard and Oxford. He married his high school girlfriend and became a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist.

While at Oxford, Sandy got a call from Art. Art was the one who needed help. He’d formed a folk duo with his high school pal Paul Simon, and they needed $400 to record their first album. Sandy and Sue had $404 in their bank account, but without hesitation Sandy gave his old friend what he needed.

That first album was not a success, but one of the songs, The Sounds of Silence, was. The opening line echoed the way Sandy always greeted Art: “Hello Darkness, my old friend.

They are still best friends. Garfunkel said that through Sandy he became a better guy -somebody who gives to a friend.

What a great story. Is there a friend that needs you right now? I bet there is.