A love letter to Paul Simon’s Graceland from Castlebar

Where would we be in the eighties in Mayo without Mid West Radio churning out tracks from Paul Simons most popular solo album “Graceland”

Mid West radio was always on in my house in the eighties, if it wasnt for tuning in to find out the death notices to hearing what the weather would be like the following day! But I can guarantee you if it wasn’t the local country artists churning out the same same  tune over and over again you would be guarenteed to hear a track from Graceland.

The very first time i heard “You can me Al” was from the local DJ on the station called Brendan Redmond. So yeah i think it is more than likely safe to say i discovered Paul Simon because of Mid West Radio.

The album was released in 1986 and was Simons seventh solo studio album. Apperantly  he received criticism for seemingly breaking the cultural boycott  imposed against South Africa because of its policy of apartheied. Following its completion, Simon toured alongside South African musicians, combining their music and the music of Graceland.

In the eighties this album was everywhere when i was growing up in Castlebar. Quickly becoming one of my dads favourite albums at the time also. Back then the summer’s felt like they could last forever and Graceland was the perfect antidote to those summers.

So many iconic singles to think of, its almost impossible to choose a favourite track here.

Graceland became Simon’s most successful studio album and his highest-charting album in over a decade; it is estimated to have sold up to 16 million copies worldwide. It was lauded by critics, won the 1987 grammy ward for Album of the year and is frequently cited as one of the best albums of all time. In 2007, it was added to the National Recording Registry  as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important”.

If i remember correctly when we were kids we used to take a radio and run in the fields and in the back of Rathbawn and listen to the album in full. Back then Rathbawn had a number of fields that us kids used to play in and Graceland was the album that we took with us.

At the beginning of recording the album In February 1985, Simon and Halee flew to Johannesburg, intending their visit to be secret. Recording sessions took place at Ovation Studios. Halee was initially reluctant, fearing the studio would be a “horror show,” but he was pleasantly surprised to find it “very comfortable.” The studio was reminiscent of a garage, which Halee feared would be a problem for the production of the recordings, and none of the musicians wore headphones.

The album has always remained in my top 10 favourite records of all time. Its pretty much a fun filled record with various upbeat melodies that bring me back to a much happier time.

 

He brought together numerous guest musicians, including childhood heroesthe Everly Brothers, and Linda Ronstadt. . Simon’s trip to Louisiana with Richard Landtry  led to the recording of “That Was Your Mother” with local band Good Rockin Dopsie and the Twisters. After seeing the group at a dance hall in Lafayette, he recorded the song with them at a small studio behind a music store. He felt that the accordion, central to zydeco, would make a pleasing transition back to his own culture. Afterward, he contacted Mexican-American band Los Lobos, with whom he recorded “All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints” in Los Angeles.

 

 

So is Graceland one of the best records of the eighties? I would defintely have it up there in the top 10 as a groundbreaking album. According to Simon himself Tensions during the recording sessions in South Africa were considerably high due to the effect that Apartheid had on the musicians. As Simon recalled in an interview with Rolling Stone, sessions that started at noon would generally go all the way until the evening, at which point they were not allowed on the streets without the risk of arrest. Since black citizens were also banned from using public transportation, musicians would have to rely on the hope that they could find a car to bring them home, resulting in a shared feeling of discomfort across the group late in the evening.

 

Graceland is defintely an album that you should revisit for all the right reasons

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