Graceland

July, 25 2015 | Terminal West

It’s hard to remember it now, but in the early 80s, Paul Simon’s career and personal life had hit a low. His 1983 Hearts and Bonesdidn’t sell well and his marriage fell apart. A bootleg cassette of South African township music would ultimately lift him out of his depression and right his career. The bootleg was titled Gumboots: Accordion Jive Hits, Volume II, and Simon got his people at Warner Brothers Records to track down the artists on the tape. They confirmed that it was either Lady Smith Black Mambazo or Boyoyo Boys. Both were from South Africa, which was trouble for Simon as recording them required breaking the cultural boycott due to the apartheid. Ultimately, Simon wrote a set of songs based largely on what he heard and recorded in South Africa. The result, of course, is Graceland, Simon’s seventh album. Released on August 25, 1986, it proved a huge commercial success, thus righting Simon’s career. Graceland won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1987, and it’s hard to find a best-of list without it near the top. Graceland popularized African music in the rest of the world (a controversial point according to some who saw it as another form of colonialism or others, like South African musician David Defries who said “So it has taken another white man to discover my people?”). As Simon put it in 2013, “There was the almost mystical affection and strange familiarity I felt when I first heard South African music. Later, there was the visceral thrill of collaborating with South African musicians onstage. Add to this potent mix the new friendships I made with my band mates, and the experience becomes one of the most vital in my life.”

Side 1:

1. The Boy in the Bubble- Hello Ocho
2. Graceland - Tyler Lyle
3. I Know What I Know - Hello Ocho
4. Gumboots - Sydney Eloise & The Palms
5. Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes - Eliot Bronson

Side 2:

6. You Can Call Me Al - Adam Hoffman & Matt Lipkins
7. Under The African Skies - Eliot Bronson
8. Homeless - ATL Collective Choir
9. Crazy Love, Vol.II - Sydney Eloise & The Palms
10. That Was Your Mother - Tyler Lyle
11. All Around the World or the Myth Fingerprints - Adam Hoffman & Matt Lipkins