Monday 20 November 2017

Lucy Jones: Paul Simon’s Gracelands is one of the great albums of all time ... but should it ever have been made?

Paul Simon
Paul Simon

MUSIC and politics. Now there's a thorny relationship. Just yesterday, an Israeli orchestra announced its decision to break the boycott against Wagner’s works that's existed since 1938 at a concert in June.

You may remember the Prom that was pulled last year after a Palestinian protest against the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Now a new film about Paul Simon's Graceland has unearthed that slightly absurd question: does music transcend politics?

The album was released 25 years ago and to mark it, filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost) has made a documentary that follows Paul Simon’s adventure to South Africa to reunite with the musicians, groups and singers that he worked with in 1986. Fans of the album will enjoy footage of Simon and collaborators writing and playing at the time. The film also presents interesting details. We are told how Simon couldn't get the word 'Graceland' out of his head, despite it being at cultural odds with the South African theme. So he took off to the home of Elvis, saw the 'Mississipi Delta shining like a national guitar' and eventually decided to just go with it.

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