Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Albums that let these ears see; Chp 3

Maybe I've a reason to believe, We all will be recived in

Graceland - Paul Simon

Among the finest albums ever recorded from one of the truly great.

There is brilliance to music that comes from those who truly understand it. They pretend not to be masters or icons, rather always aware of the status of student. These musicians are those that find themselves at the high mark of recognition and then change everything. Not done for the sake of doing or to gain attention in need to reinvent and make themselves relevant again. Rather, they maintain the childlike fascination that drives them to become again and never the same.

Simon is such artist. He mastered the folk world and then split from Garfunkel, entering a solo career that teetered on pop excellence. He released relentless singles and grew to that almost unattainable level where “everyone likes your music.” His music is in the soundtrack of our nations, it’s the theme songs to our lives. And then he changed everything we knew about modern music. He made rock ‘n roll what it was always intended to be; Music for all people. He didn’t try to bring his music to the world, he channeled the world through himself and let the world decide if its collective ear was willing to listen.

It was and Graceland is the child of such a birth.

Using breathtaking melodies and simplistic chants along traditional African beats, Simon incorporated one of Africa’s cherished treasures in Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The synergy is musical legend. Some of Simon’s truest and most celebrated songs come from this album. The most recognizable of course being “You Can Call Me Al” but the title song “Graceland” as well as “I Know What I Know,” “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes” and the brilliant “Under African Skies.”

In the simplest terms, the album just works. Ever facet, every nuance, the editing, the mixing, the melodies, the lyrics, the grand scoping songs, the tuneful heartfelt songs and the pop sensations. This is the type of album most artists dream to aspire to.

This album gave hope back to the future of songwriters in an era a synthesizers and one hit wonders as the MTV generation began to change the landscape of the music industry and the quality of songs on the radio and the shelves of your local record store. The fact that Paul Simon, such an accomplished artist took such a venture calls to his true ability to recognize and personalize the sounds of the world and in turn give them to us as we have never heard them before.

This is perhaps the most played record in my entire collection. I am fascinated with this album. It works on so many levels. It’s the only album I have ever known that I would feel right playing for my grandmother and at a house party…that’s no easy task.

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