Paul Simon “Graceland”

Today’s Cool Album oF the Day (#329 in the Series, and #5 in the Whale Wednesday Series) is Paul Simon, Graceland.

I think by now this album has suffered from, what I call, “title fatigue.”  Your first reaction might be, meh.  I want you to think back to 1986 when this was just released.  Think about how different sounding it was.

This album was quite the departure for Paul Simon. He brought in Joseph Shamabala and guitarist Ray Phiri plus Ladysmith Black Mambazo to completely change his sound.  His use of African rhythms and harmonies were such a surprise.  And it worked! To the tune of Grammy Award for Album and Record of the year it worked!

There was one thing that I never understood about Graceland. That was the title. The title cut was about Elvis’ mansion and home.  Nearly all of the rest of the album had the African music theme. Why did he give top billing to Graceland when it was really a small part of the project?

“You Can Call Me Al” was the biggest hit single here.  I think it was hardly the best track, but yes, it was a good one. And yes, it did provide us with a great video as well!

My favorites had to be “Boy In the Bubble”,” Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes”,” Homeless,” and the duet with Linda Ronstadt, “Under African Skies.”

Please check out the video playlist below. You can listen to nearly the full album live!  Great renditions as well!

Paul brought in a ton of great musicians for this album. I’m not even going to start to mention them individually.  You can see the complete list below.

Accolades

  • Grammy Award winner for Album of the Year and Record of the Year 1987.
  • Ranked #5 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s Best Album of the 80s
  • Ranked #81 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s Best 500 Albums of All time.

Track listing

All songs written by Paul Simon, except where indicated

  1. “The Boy in the Bubble” (Forere Motloheloa/Paul Simon) – 3:59
  2. “Graceland” – 4:48
  3. “I Know What I Know” (General MD Shirinda/Simon) – 3:13
  4. “Gumboots” (Lulu Masilela/Jonhjon Mkhalali/Simon) – 2:44
  5. “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” (Joseph Shabalala/Simon) – 5:45
  6. “You Can Call Me Al” – 4:39
  7. “Under African Skies” – 3:37
  8. “Homeless” (Shabalala/Simon) – 3:48
  9. “Crazy Love, Vol. II” – 4:18
  10. “That Was Your Mother” – 2:52
  11. “All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints” – 3:15

Credits

  • Paul Simon – acoustic guitar (tracks 1 and 11), guitar (tracks 5 and 7), lead vocals, synclavier (track 3 and 4), six-string electric bass (track 6), background vocals (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, and 9)
  • Rob Mounsey – horn arrangement (track 6) (uncredited on album)
  • Ray Phiri – guitar (tracks 2, 5, 6, 7, and 9)
  • Adrian Belew – guitar synthesizer (tracks 1, 6, and 9), guitar (track 7)
  • Demola Adepoju – pedal steel guitar (track 2)
  • Daniel Xilakazi – lead and rhythm guitar (track 4)
  • Sherman Robertson – guitar (track 10)
  • Cesar Rosas – guitar and backing vocals (track 11)
  • David Hidalgo – guitar, accordion, and backing vocals (track 11)
  • Conrad Lozano – bass (track 11)
  • Alonzo Johnson – bass (track 10)
  • Lloyd Lelose – bass (track 9)
  • Bakithi Kumalo – bass (tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7)
  • Isaac Mtshali – drums (tracks 5, 6, 7, and 9)
  • Vusi Khumalo – drums (tracks 1 and 2)
  • Petrus Manile – drums (track 4)
  • Alton Rubin, Jr. – drums (track 10)
  • Louie Pérez – drums (track 11)
  • Steve Gadd – additional drums (track 11)
  • Makhaya Mahlangu – percussion (tracks 1 and 2)
  • Ralph MacDonald – percussion (tracks 4, 6, 7, and 11)
  • Youssou N’Dour – percussion (track 5)
  • Babacar Faye – percussion (track 5)
  • Assane Thiam – percussion (track 5)
  • Lulu Masilela – tambourines (track 4)
  • David Rubin – washboard (track 10)
  • Alton Rubin, Sr. – accordion (track 10)
  • Jonhjon Mkhalali – accordion (track 4)
  • Forere Motloheloa – accordion (track 1)
  • Rob Mounsey – synthesizer (tracks 1 and 6)
  • Barney Rachabane – saxophone (track 4)
  • Mike Makhalemele – saxophone (track 4)
  • Teaspoon Ndela – saxophone (track 4)
  • Lenny Pickett – tenor saxophone (track 5)
  • Earl Gardner – trumpet (track 5)
  • Alex Foster – alto saxophone (track 5)
  • Ronnie Cuber – bass and baritone saxophone (track 6)
  • Jon Faddis – trumpet (track 6)
  • Randy Brecker – trumpet (track 6)
  • Lew Soloff – trumpet (track 6)
  • Alan Rubin – trumpet (track 6)
  • Dave Bargeron – trombone (track 6)
  • Kim Allan Cissel – trombone (track 6)
  • Morris Goldberg – penny whistle (track 6), soprano saxophone (track 9)
  • Johnny Hoyt – saxophone (track 10)
  • Steve Berlin – saxophone (track 11)
  • The Everly Brothers – additional vocals (track 2)
  • The Gaza Sisters – vocals (track 3)
  • Diane Garisto – backing vocals (track 4)
  • Michelle Cobbs – vacking vocals (track 4)
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo – vocals (tracks 5)
  • Joseph Shabalala – vocals (track)
  • Linda Ronstadt – additional vocals (track 7)

Links

Posted by Larry Carta

3 Comments

  1. Stephen (30 Mar 2011, 1:04)
    Reply

    Great album , didn’t know the Everly Brothers were on it !

  2. jdzlaw (30 Mar 2011, 11:06)
    Reply

    I’ve always understood “Graceland” to more of a metaphor, rather than actually about the place. It is more about finding “Grace” and peace of mind than actually about Elvis

  3. Larry Carta (30 Mar 2011, 12:47)
    Reply

    Great point jd!!



Leave a Reply

Before you post, please prove you are sentient.

what is 3 plus 2?