Paul Simon's 1986 album Graceland marked an unprecedented intersection of music, culture and politics. In a conversation with World Cafe's David Dye — presented here in four parts — Simon speaks candidly about his legendary collaborations with South African musicians such as Joseph Shabalala and his vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 7:00 am
Credit Mary Ellen Matthews
Paul Simon's music can feel timeless even when it's filled with new ideas. In his interview with World Cafe host David Dye, Simon reflects on his friend Bert Jansch, who recently died, and discusses their friendship, which lasted more than 30 years.
Singer-songwriter Paul Simon was listening to a box set of old American recordings one day. Among the songs, he found a Christmas sermon bearing the voice of Atlanta's Rev. J.M. Gates, a hugely popular preacher in the 1930s and '40s. That sermon stayed with Simon, who turned it into a song.
For a while now, Paul Simon has been shuffling and reshuffling the basic ingredients of his 1986 masterwork Graceland, trying new combinations of exotic, often African rhythms with elements of American blues and roots music. It's a rich area that has led him to some amazing songs, and also some retreads.