Monday, June 16, 2008

Footwear: Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes



Paul Simon: Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes

[purchase]

Graceland is Paul Simon's last great album. And it really is great.


I happened to be living in South Africa when it came out, so it has always been an important record for me.  I heard it frequently in people's homes, and I played it almost constantly on my little one-speaker tape recorder.

Paul Simon instantly became a sort of hero in South Africa when he recorded this record there in spite of accusations that he had broken cultural and legal boycotts against the country. His use of South African sounds, South African musicians, and a South African recording studio was great validation for many (but not all) of the citizens of a country that saw itself as, at best, outside of the world community and, at worst, shunned by it.

One striking thing about the South African people, at that time at least, was that they were very concerned about how the world saw them.  As I was preparing to move back to California probably 10-15 people independently said to me, "Go back and tell people that our country is beautiful.  Tell them that we're not bad people.  Tell them that many of us hate the current system.  Tell them that many of us want a freer country too..." etc.  I was struck by their concern for these things.

Of course apartheid is now history.  I saw it in action back in the mid and late-80's, and it was extremely disturbing and awful to witness; however, I loved that incredibly beautiful country and its many wonderful people. I appreciate Paul Simon for being able to find some of what was beautiful about them, at the time when they needed it most, and showcase it to the world.

Graceland was Album Of The Year.  The title track was Record Of The Year.  The album has sold more than 14 million copies, making it Simon's most commercially successful album.

12 comments:

BWR said...

This will probably be my only post this week! I had the Costello track, and the Dylan track -- but other than those (and Paul Simon) I just don't have any other footwear songs! I don't know why. (I do have Old Brown Shoe by The Beatles, but there hasn't been a Beatles song on here yet, and for some reason I don't want to post one).

Looking forward to what others have to post this week.

boyhowdy said...

You did this one justice and then some, BWR. You can always take time off, what with twelve of us on the roster -- I myself took the second half of last week off, too -- but I bet you'll think of at least one more before the week is out!

(Though I'm pretty sure the homonym here is "diamonds on the SOLES of her shoes")

BWR said...

Whew! Thanks - "souls" really doesn't make much sense, does it.

scott said...

This was on my (very short) list of shoe songs - I knew it was going to go fast. (There's always "Gumboots" from the same album!). But boy did you do the post justice! Nice to hear that perspective.

Paul said...

Nice post. Great album. This is probably my favorite song on Graceland, but I also love the title track: "The Mississippi delta was shining like a National Steel guitar..."

Just don't mention Graceland to anybody from Los Lobos...

BWR said...

Yeah - I decided to leave the Los Lobos controversy out. Didn't seem to match the tone of the rest of the post. But, they are pretty pissed off to this very day.

If you don't know what this is about, look here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graceland_%28album%29#Music

paul said...

Good choice leaving it out of the post itself. It diminishes the otherwise good vibes.

Anonymous said...

Rhythm of the Saints is a better record...

Anonymous said...

No way.

Divinyl said...

Another, again, from my shortlist...Paul Simon is my fave! 'Gumboots' was there too! Lol. However, I would not have written such a beautiful piece with it...nice work BWR :o)

And if you need some suggestions, I have TONNES of footwear songs you could tackle...I'll never get around to them all!

Divinyl said...

P.s. 'Old Brown Shoe' is on my list too! Lol.

Anonymous said...

ROTS is better, more consistent, deeper, sophisticated and ultimately rewarding; even Simon himself has declared as much... It's just less accessible but pays off after repeated listens, oh you who have been raised on the Backstreet Boys, Hootie and the Blowfish and their ilk... (People hearing without listening...)