“Under African Skies” by Paul Simon (with Linda Ronstadt) (1986)

8 09 2008

Paul Simon was pretty much a living legend as a singer/songwriter when he laid the album “Graceland” on the world.  He took a big chance, flying to South Africa to play with black musicians in a place where there was still a policy of racial segregation, called apartheid.

He also took a big chance musically, because while much of our popular music is heavily influenced by WEST Africa, music from southern Africa was another story.  The musical phrasing is different, as well as the structure of their songs, along, probably, with many other things that I’m not savvy enough to recognize.  So Mr. Simon had to really adapt this project to the needs of the music, which he did splendidly.

What emerged was a near-perfect record, in my opinion.  There is energy, joy, understanding, and compassion in every track.  I particularly like this one, with Linda Ronstadt lending her buttercreme voice on the harmony.

Man.  That’s good music!

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