All Songs Considered Blog
5:08 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

After 25 Years, Revisiting Paul Simon's Controversial 'Graceland'

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 5:16 pm

I remember so clearly when Paul Simon headed to South Africa. His trip there was controversial in the midst of growing boycotts surrounding apartheid. I imagined with odd certainty that somehow Paul Simon would be killed. I spent the better part of a weekend listening to his music, sad and scared. Fortunately, nothing happened — only my love for his music became stronger.

Simon's journey was, incidentally, born of a desire to rekindle a fading career, but he returned with music that we'd be singing all these years later ... Graceland.

It's hard to believe it's been 25 years since Graceland's release. To celebrate, Simon is releasing a reissue of the album and a new documentary. Under African Skies follows Simon on a trip to South Africa earlier last year to discuss Graceland's legacy and the controversy surrounding the album's creation. Directed by Oscar-nominated documentarian Joe Berlinger, the documentary features interviews of musicians like Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, and David Byrne. In this exclusive clip from the documentary, Harry Belafonte and guitarist John Selolwane discuss traveling around the world on the 1987 Graceland tour. There's also footage from the tour, where you will probably wince at the horribly-outdated fashion choices you can see in the audience.

The 25th anniversary edition of Graceland will be released June 5th.

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