A fusion of politics and music under African skies
Last summer I had a date with Paul Simon. He stood me up. Well, me and hundreds of other fans who had bought tickets to see him before in Bournemouth, the day after his Glastonbury set.
But as anyone who watched his performance then would know, he wasn't a well man and his Bournemouth gig was cancelled with half an hour's notice.
The "Paul Simon in concert" fridge magnet that we had bought has a certain irony now.
It's a real shame because I have been a massive fan of his from early folk hits, through Bridge Over Troubled Water, There Goes Rhymin' Simon and the ground-breaking Graceland, now a staggering quarter of a century old.
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Graceland presented Paul Simon with a bit of a political problem. It came at a time when Nelson Mandela was still in prison and there was a cultural boycott of South Africa, backed by the UN and a lot of leading showbusiness names.
But for Paul Simon, it was all about the music and a chance to work with musicians from a different background. In There Goes Rhymin' Simon he had worked with players and singers from a Dixie and gospel background. In Graceland he teamed up with the likes of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Politics aside, it is a brilliant album and I never tire of it – even after 25 years. From the poppy You Can Call Me Al and Crazy Love through to the moving Under African Skies, it's a fantastic fusion of words, music and rhythm.
Imagine added another layer of interest as Paul Simon talked about the writing of the songs, the making of the album and the backlash that followed. Even a tour with exiled African artists Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba failed to appease his opponents.
Looking back, though, there's no doubt that Paul Simon's Graceland made a difference musically, and perhaps in the long term, politically too.