Wednesday, May 27, 2009

number 14

14. Paul Simon, Graceland. Notice anything different about the blog? Other than I haven't published anything in 2 weeks, LOL? I have replaced my old computer, which was giving me fits, with a powerful Gateway model which I purchased like 2 months ago but didn't hook up until this past weekend. Vista power, baby! Not that I really wanted Vista - I would've been perfectly content with XP, just needed some faster Internet action etc etc - but Vista came with the computer.

But I digress. Graceland. Who can deny that this was a seminal album in American music history? Well, probably plenty of people; but I'm still going to make that case. Obviously, world music existed before this album, but how many great-rock-albums-influenced-by-world-music were there? Huh? Clearly, Paul Simon set a precedent here. And what an amazing comeback for the former Simon and Garfunkel-er! He just came out of nowhere with this baby, kind of like David Bowie with Let's Dance, maybe.

Some will say that albums like Graceland have bastardized world music, replacing the authentic sound of other cultures with white male sensibilities. Well, speaking for myself, I have to say that I like my world music filtered through the musical tastes of aging white folk heroes with receding hairlines. It works for me just fine. Because how many people discovered the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo through this album? Me, for one; my hand's in the air. And also, a lot of the people who were critical of Paul Simon for this album remind me of Derek Mazzone, the narcissistic host of Wo' Pop on KEXP. I never could stand that guy's show, and his voice. Ugh! No matter which country's music he played - Botswana, Kazakhstan, Bolivia - he always thought he pronounced the song names with the correct accent. Kind of a jackass.

Anyhow, I digress again. Beyond its historical importance, this album is great cover-to-cover, especially the fantastic title track and "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes." I was never that crazy about "You Can Call Me Al," but I do really like "Crazy Love." "Homeless": wonderful a cappella song. Such a great album in so many different ways ...

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