There’s an interesting article in The Guardian as part of the ‘My Favourite Album’ series, featuring Graceland by Paul Simon. As one of the generation who bought the album and subjected their children to it through repeated plays on car journeys, I could empathise with the sentiment expressed in the article. However, I’m not sure I would rank it as my favourite album, but its certainly right up there. As a long term Paul Simon fan, I was never entirely sure of this direction after the split with Art Garfunkel, but Graceland brought everything into focus. It is musical poetry at its best, and has defined Paul Simon as genre in his own right. I distinctly remember seeing him on the Graceland tour in London, and being totally awestruck by the blend of musicians and musicality on show; Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mambosa – outstanding.
The last time I saw Paul Simon, in London, it was one of my backseat children (now an adult) who came with me, and even the youngest one, who wasn’t born at the time of Graceland, watched the concert video with me recently and was anxious to listen to the latest album ‘So Beautiful or What”.
Paul Simon’s contribution to music is profound and to a large extent, unique; there’s nobody quite like him. His performance at Glastonbury this year wasn’t quite up to scratch, but that was probably attributable to illness, but the sight of the thousands of festival goers packed all the way back from the Pyramid Stage for an afternoon session was just staggering.
But going back to musical poetry, the comments below the Guardian article are fascinating in the way that specific lines from the lyrics are identified and internalised by people. Actually, one of my favourite Paul Simon ‘lines’ comes from earlier times (The Boxer); “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”. Sad, but true!