Long before I knew what the Memphis Delta was, I knew about Graceland. A friend of my mom had brought the album back to Liberia from the U.S. as a present to my sister and I still remember us playing this album and dancing around our living room in Buchanan. After we moved to the U.S. this album would always be around at my Mom's house (or in her car) whenever my sister and I went to her place for a visit. As I have grown older, this album has become a favorite not only for sentimental reasons but because it's just so darn good! Pressing play on any song on this album is a direct route to happy dancing feet (or shoulders if you are in the car).
For those of you unfamiliar with this album here is the quick and dirty synopsis: Paul Simon - serious kingpin when it comes to American music + tons of black South African musicians who weren't getting as much play as they deserved under apartheid = Graceland, top album of the 1980s that people can't put done more than 20 years later! Paul Simon's fun and catching (but also deep and meaningful) lyrics get a injected with all the goodness that is isicathamiya and mbaqanga musical styles. The album not only propelled Ladysmith Black Mambazo into even greater stardom, but introduced the world to some of the great music coming from Africa. While the album was heavily focused on South African music, it should be noted that the famous Ghana drummer Okyerema Asante is on album as well as Senegalese legend Youssou N'Dour.
It has been ridiculously hard to select just one song from this album to feature today but "Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes" is the winner. Stick through to the end of the track to get a fabulous drumming breakdown. Click here and here to hear two other favorites from this album.
Last note: This video and the collection of videos from the Graceland tour with Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba is actually from the mega concert that took place in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1987. It's cool to see an image of Harare as a place where, for a moment, whites and blacks (many driving in from South Africa) could get together and just enjoy the power of music together.
Have a great weekend!