Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

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Spec
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Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby Spec » 01 Dec 2016, 10:21

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Paul Simon's Graceland was released 30 years ago (August 1986)

How do you feel about the album and the politics around it? Do you still listen to it? What impact, if any, did it have on music and/or South Africa?

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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby Your Friendly Neighbourhood Postman » 01 Dec 2016, 10:41

It's a great album.

IIRC there was quite something to do about there being a cultural boycott against South-Africa at the time.

I think the arts should be clearly separated from (bad) ideologies.

I can find nothing whatsoever in this album that in any way supports a wrong attitude towards others; on the contrary, it's all about people of different colours coming together and making wonderful music.

As such, it is a firm statement that speaks against ugly beliefs and the acts that come with these.

Which somehow seems contradictory to my third sentence of this post.

So be it.
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby wannabee enfant terrible » 01 Dec 2016, 10:43

Boy in the Bubble is my jam.
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby fire and fueryIre » 01 Dec 2016, 11:24

Film about this very album and topic (a repeat?) on BBC4 tomorrow night
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby NMB » 01 Dec 2016, 12:11

It's a very fine album if not quite a masterpiece.

Should Paul Simon have broken the cultural boycott? Probably not. But the result of him doing so was pretty much positive all round, it benefited the careers of the musicians involved*, especially Ladysmith Black Mbazo who became (minor) world stars on the back of it, and it did at least bring apartheid back onto the agenda for the generally apolitical public. It also (slightly) raised the profile of African music, for my parents if nobody else.

* Los Lobos might argue with that, weren't there claims that he copped the songwriting credits for one of their songs?

I saw Paul Simon touring this album a few years back, I'm guessing it must have been for the 25th anniversary. It was a very good show.
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby THE SMOOTH SOUL STYLINGS OF SUMPTUOUS SI » 01 Dec 2016, 12:27

clive gash wrote:Boy in the Bubble is my jam.


Yeah, that's a great one.

I've never been convinced about the album as a whole, tho'. And of course the lead-off single was unforgivable dreck.
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby Hugh » 01 Dec 2016, 12:53

I was well into other African music at the time - King Sunny Ade, Orchestra Makassy, that sort of stuff so musically, it was nothing particularly exciting. Also, Lizzie Mecrier Descloux had made a similar, better album some time before Graceland but no one had noticed so there was no furore attached to that.

I do enjoy Graceland though and I still come back to it. I think Simon's heart was in the right place, although maybe not with Los Lobos. There was a great thread on here about that at one time.

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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby Darkness_Fish » 01 Dec 2016, 13:41

I think there was a big difference between going to South Africa and recording an album with black African artists, and going breaking a boycott of South Africa to make shed-loads of money from concerts in Sun City, which only utter scum like Queen did. The boycott was meant to be there to help show the outrage and indignation the rest of the world had to the apartheid system, and raise awareness of that by depriving the general public of musical, sporting, and general cultural events.

I mean, it was probably fairly ignorant of him to go there and not expect there to be a fuss, but it's not in the same league. Did I mention that Queen are scum?
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby Count Machuki » 01 Dec 2016, 14:20

:shock:
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby Count Machuki » 01 Dec 2016, 14:34

Paul Simon is not a chameleon, or even a magpie. He's a wet parrot. He's a cultural imperialist. He doesn't get it.

And Graceland is just a flowering of this. "Oh, really, I'm quite African now...check me out."
"Oh, I've been into zydeco since I was a kid. In New York."
"I feel like I've always been a reggae singer, so I bought Jimmy Cliff's band"
"I'm extremely South American now, so I'll translate this song and call it my own"
Fuck that. You don't just jump into something with no feel for it and claim it as your own. Cultural imperialism. How do we know he didn't do that in the early 60s? "I'm a folk singer, really, I am, check me out!" PEOPLE FELL FOR THIS SHIT.

GRACELAND
My mom wore out that tape. This is classic station wagon music. This record was a huge hit and still has a following among the functionally deaf and the hard of taste. And it's an affront to music. It's so completely permeated with funk fakery that it's a marvel there's anything left to hang a song on.

Did he write that fucking Los Lobos song? The hell he did. What the hell does he know from highlife? Did he hang with any of these musicians' families in Africa and get an idea about the country, or did he go from airport to studio to airport. Bet it was the latter.

And did he bother to hire anybody but the most famous? No sir. And were those business dealings up front? Fuck no they weren't.

How can you justify slap bass on a Paul "Fucking" Simon record? It's SO 80s, so bland, so processed.

I can't be doing with this record, or really, Paul Simon in general. Fuck sake, I haven't even had a coffee yet!
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby Goat Boy » 01 Dec 2016, 14:54

I think it's great!
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby Count Machuki » 01 Dec 2016, 14:56

Yeah, it's ok.
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby Count Machuki » 01 Dec 2016, 14:57

JUST KIDDING IT'S SHIT
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby zoomboogity » 01 Dec 2016, 15:02

"Hey man, after I heard fuckin' Graceland, I listened to nothing but African music for A WHOLE MONTH. Well, three days, but it was all in the same month. I went to Armani's the other day and couldn't believe it - 'What do you mean, you don't have any fucking dashikis?' Man, these fuckers are SO behind the times. Ask me anything about highlife - it's the Champagne Of Beers! Before there was ME, there was Paul Simon. Nuff said."

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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby zoomboogity » 01 Dec 2016, 15:38

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"Hey Paul, could you spare a few bucks so Skip and I can get a sandwich?"

"Sorry, Mike, I'm a bit short."


And that's EXACTLY how it happened.
Last edited by zoomboogity on 08 Feb 2017, 16:33, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby Count Machuki » 01 Dec 2016, 15:42

:lol:

I got Grohled

:lol: :lol:

Paul Simon...what a wanker!
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby Fonz » 01 Dec 2016, 16:55

I spent several years thinking that Chevy Chase WAS Paul Simon. Got a shock when a mate brought 'Fletch Lives!' (Great film, btw) round on a VHS.
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby Matt Wilson » 01 Dec 2016, 18:25

The best album he made in the '80s.
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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby nathan » 01 Dec 2016, 18:28

This photo rarely fails to make me angry:

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I'll fuck with some You Can Call Me Al. But yuck!

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Re: Graceland: Masterpiece, politically wrong or both?

Postby bobzilla77 » 01 Dec 2016, 18:37

It was OK, I guess. Not really my kind of music by 1986 but I heard it, and thought it was OK.

I do think he was clumsy and possibly arrogant about some of his cultural appropriation, as wealthy white folks often are. The Los Lobos story kind of rankled me, I think those guys are wonderful & it's a drag to hear about them getting ripped off. I recall Celia Cruz giving him a load of shit at the time she was on a record of his, saying that she wouldn't have done it if she had known how it was being presented.

But as music, I don't have a big problem with it. I like the video for Betty Call Me Al.
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