Paul Simon’s 1986 album Graceland turns 25 this year. This gorgeous review at This Recording covers the politics and prose that marked Graceland’s debut — including musical recording in Johannesberg that violated South Africa’s apartheid regulations and Paul Simon’s creative struggle to find his voice.
This passage is particularly appropriate for the second generation of Graceland fans:
Context and time do sometimes matter. The Paul Simon who, on a bus en route to New York City told his sleeping girlfriend that he was empty and aching and he didn’t know why, that Simon belongs to our parents. My generation may love him but he’s not ours. The Simon who is soft in the middle (or at least feels an affinity for men who happen to be), however, the one who reminds young women of money, who has been divorced and has a kid to prove it, and who has the means to catch a cab uptown and take it all the way downtown talking dispassionately while doing so about the comings and goings of breakdowns, that Simon belongs to us as much as he does to our folks because he is our folks. Not our folks the way they were before we were born, but the way they were when we first knew them, as they were losing their edge and feeling maybe a little insecure about that loss; our folks as we knew them when we ourselves were entering that era of childhood which finally allowed for reflection and the retention of memory and for the level of awareness that clued us into the fact that a baby with a baboon heart was something to wonder at and to then distantly — vaguely — mourn when she died three weeks after her baboon heart first beat inside her body; this was our folks the way they were when they were trying to raise us right: to say please and thank you and to only send food back under dire circumstances; the way they were when we really saw them for the first time. At least, in retrospect. Now that we’re grown, that first introduction lingers. We also recognize not just our parents in the words of those songs, but ourselves and our own impending midlives that loiter like shortening shadows on the horizon.
Paul Simon in 2011; photo by Mark Seliger (click photo for link to recent interview)
Here’s the link to the full review, at a blog called IndieClick, via Yum & Yuk.
Paul Simon is one of those songwriters (like Bob Dylan) who finds beautiful parts of life and makes it simple. Just hearing the word “Graceland” conjures such strong memories of driving home at dawn from college crew that I can smell the prairie.
Here’s a clip from the Graceland tour in Zimbabwe:
A quarter of a century ago Paul Simon identified the days of miracles and wonder; nice to remember we’re still in that age now.
Google, Paris, Romance, Studying Abroad, and Babies all wrapped up in one 52 second spot!
And, as long as we’re playing in videos, here’s something spectacularly happy:
Last music post for this themed Sunday. I’m a huge, huge Bach fan, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this:
From Boing Boing.
In keeping w/ today’s music theme, here’s DCist’s Classical Music Agenda:
If you are most interested in music by living composers, you should become a regular at the series of concerts played by the VERGE Ensemble at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which gets under way this afternoon (September 13, 4 p.m.). The program includes Somei Satoh’s Birds in Warped Time II for violin and piano and the Washington premiere of Paul Moravec’s Passacaglia.
>> If you live in the Montgomery County suburbs, the concert series at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington in Rockville is a good option. It opens its season tonight with a recital by the fine pianist Joyce Yang, who won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition’s silver medal when she was 19. She will play music by Chopin, Schumann, and Rachmaninoff (September 13, 7:30 p.m.).
>> For chamber music, it is hard to beat the program on offer from the Calder String Quartet next Sunday (September 20, 3 p.m.) at College Park’s Clarice Smith Center. Leoš Janáček’s second string quartet, known as “Intimate Letters,” will be paired with pieces by Stravinsky and Schubert. Hang around after the performance for an informal “talk back” session with the Calder Quartet and ask the question you have always wanted to have classical music’s hippest string quartet answer. They will be back in the area later in the month, as part of their genre-bending tour with bloody-mouthed rocker Andrew W. K., at the Sixth and I Synagogue (September 30, 8 p.m.).
Also from DCist: Criss-crossing escalators
This is one of the songs I used to know, and am re-learning now. Yes, it’s beautiful. No, I have no idea what she’s wearing.
This fantastic “mental health break” comes from The Daily Dish:
Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.
No, I never listened to this band, but Chris Lowe used to visit me when I worked at a beach bar in Ft. Lauderdale. Somewhere I have a bunch of CD’s he gave me w/ a ton of unreleased music and unpublished recordings of the stuff they did release. Such an unbelievably nice man!
Andrew Sullivan interview.