Soundtrack of Silence
by Matt Hay
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Pub Date 09 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 23 Jan 2024
As a child, Matt Hay didn’t know his hearing wasn’t the way everyone else processed sound—and like a lot of kids who do workarounds to fit in, even the school nurse didn’t catch his condition at the annual hearing and vision checks. But as a prospective college student who couldn’t pass the entrance requirements for West Point, Hay’s condition, generated by a tumor, was unavoidable: his hearing was going, and fast.
Soundtrack of Silence was his determined compensation for his condition: a typical Midwestern kid growing up in the 1980s, whose life events were pegged to pop music, Hay planned to commit his favorite songs to memory, a mental playbook not only of the bands he loved, but a way to tap his most resonant memories. And the track he needed to cement most clearly? The one he and his new girlfriend Nora—the love of his life—listened to in the car on their first date.
Made vivid with references to instantly recognizable songs—from The Eagles to Elton John, Bob Marley to Bing Crosby, U2 to Peter Frampton—Soundtrack of Silence asks readers to run the soundtrack of their own lives through their minds. And, like much of the music it invokes, it’s in the end a happy story: Hay does marry the girl of his dreams, complex and cutting-edge surgeries allow him via implant and linked external devices to partially hear, and he’s able to share lullaby time with his and Nora’s children.