Paul Simon: Graceland

Words By Greg Molitor

Hello Music Marauders! My name is Greg and I am here to introduce two new bi-weekly columns. The first column is called Pop Review, a segment that will feature important moments in the history of American pop music. The second, titled World Beat, will focus on past and present world music offerings and the cultural aspects that tie the music together with its indigenous creators. For the first column, let’s combine the two themes, world and pop, as we honor and remember one of the most important releases in pop music history – Paul Simon’s 1986 release, Graceland.

During the mid 1980s, Paul Simon’s career had hit a low point. Shortly after the release of the commercial unsuccessful Hearts and Bones, Simon decided to take a chance with a musical idea he had been stewing over since hearing a tape of the Boyoyo Boy’s instrumental ”Gumboots”. His idea… let’s go to South Africa, create an album using local musicians, and see what happens. Simon was rather uncertain about how his vision would be received by both critics and record executives after its completion and release, but as well all know now, he had nothing to worry about. Peaking at #3 on the American Billboard Charts, Graceland won the 1986 Grammy for Album of the Year while winning the Record of the Year honor the following year for its title track.

Here are a couple videos of Simon playing Graceland material during his Concert for Africa series. It’s really hard to argue against this stuff…so catchy and unique.

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes

Graceland > You Can Call Me Al


  1. There are better Paul Simon albums......


  2. That maybe so... Since it's all opinion based. However, this album best fist both categories of the new column format that Greg is working on.

    I love this album, and I think it's a great pick for the world music/pop column.



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