Paul Simon Graceland, 1986
For a long time, this album was kind of the Holy Grail of music. I knew that I liked "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" from when my Dad played it for me as a kid. I had seen the video for "You Can Call Me Al" with Chevy Chase and thought it was hilarious. But I didn't know anyone who had it and I had never seen it in a store.
I don't know when I finally tracked it down, but it may have been as part of my ongoing project to listen to all the Grammy winners for Album of the Year from my birth to present (I have similar projects with Best Picture and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winners).
I don't remember my reaction when I first listened to it, but over the years, it has become clear that it is one of the all-time greats. I believe there was some hubbub about him working with South Africans during Apartheid or something, but I don't think that's something people generally think of anymore. Am I wrong?
The album is all over the place in terms of genre, but I think that it traces a clear line between the roots of rhythmic music in Africa, through the titular home of Elvis, and eventually settles in New Orleans for songs like "That Was Your Mother". It's a fun way to think about the album.
But no matter how you think about the album, it's worth it to check out the whole thing. If you ask me, this was the peak of Paul Simon's solo career.
Paul Simon - Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
Paul Simon - That Was Your Mother
You can buy Graceland at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes