“People. Despite their color and creed can work together. That’s what Graceland meant to me” – Under African Skies*
Director Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost, 1996) has directed a film that commemorates 25 years of the release of Paul Simon’s Graceland album.
Maybe you’ve never heard Graceland. Maybe you were too young in 1986 when the album was released, or your parents never played it as you grew up. Or maybe Graceland, and much of the music that many Americans listened to in the 80s and 90s, is unfamiliar territory to you. Regardless of how many Grammys it received over the years (Album of the Year in 1986, and Record of the Year in 1987), and how much social change the album inspired, now is your time to get re-acquainted.
“For me, music is the closest thing to religion. And if it’s utilized in the right way, it can inform and bring people closer, and they can find solutions to their problems. And Graceland did it.” – Ray Phiri, Graceland guitarist
In 101 minutes, “Under African Skies” travels with Paul Simon back to South Africa, telling the story of the creation of album, the political challenges, and maybe a even few of the rewards. It features interviews with names like Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney, David Byrne and Peter Gabriel. Scroll down for a taste of what to expect.
I’m not going to speculate why Paul Simon made that controversial journey to South Africa to collaborate with such incredible musicians during a highly volatile racial period. I’m not going to guess why he didn’t merely choose to hire some local NYC musicians to re-create the sound he wanted. But I will share the great gratitude I have to Paul for leaping over those barriers, dancing on those stages, and bringing the music, the message, and awareness of the racial muck of South Africa to us all.
Did Paul Simon’s cross-cultural musical collaboration contribute to the end of apartheid, the freedom of Nelson Mandela in 1990, and the first-ever multi-racial democratic elections in South Africa in 1994? I’m not sure if it’s been added to the History books yet, but for now, I’m keeping Graceland on my repeating playlist. (mp)
“These are the days of miracle and wonder. This is the long-distance call” – Paul Simon
You can pre-order the film “Under African Skies” or buy the 25th Anniversary Graceland album on www.paulsimon.com or on Amazon.com and if you’re in NYC or LA, you might be lucky to catch a screening near you! (mp)
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