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.