Township Jive and the whistle of the train in the distance
Rolling Stone is streaming a live Paul Simon album (very nice mix of new and old material, by the way) and while I listen, half-dancing in my chair and singing along to most of the songs, I have pictures running in my head, the pictures of one of my most favourite music films ever: the Graceland concert in Zimbabwe in 1987.
I know I was only five years old when it took place, but it always make me nostalgic, as if I’d really been there. And how I wish I had. I love everything about it: the video footage of people going about their ways in front of the backdrop of soldiers and posters with extravagant praise of Mugabe (so bitter-sweet to see!), seeing the people flooding towards the stadium in the hot afternoon sun, almost as if they are on a pilgrimage. And then, once the concert has started, the faces, the dancing bodies, the people singing and hugging in the crowd, and the joy and mastery and craftsmanship of the artists on stage. And not least of all, the quiet Paul Simon, singing his songs, but fading into the group when someone else is the center, taking part in their songs as just another member of the band.
And boy, how that stage is just bursting with talent. There’s Paul Simon, who crafted all these songs filled with hooks and that lilting, tilting, vibrating guitar that just stays in your head hours after you’ve heard his songs. And then there’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who are so much fun to watch and to listen to, and who are impeccable in their timing and their harmonies. The musicians – Ray Phiri, Bhakiti Kumalo, and all the rest of them – are absolute first class. And then there’s the really big names: Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela. Their contributions to that extraordinary concert make me laugh and dance and break out in goosebumps alternatively.
The concert is touching and vibrant and fun and beautiful, and really, enough said already. If you know this concert, indulge in its beauty yet again. If you don’t know it, you’ve missed out big time. And so that you can close this hole in your musical education, I’m posting the playlist of the full concert below (as far as it’s freely availabe on youtube). Just click play (or click on through to youtube) and let it play the whole wonderful Graceland concert for you!
Posted on September 18, 2012, in day-to-day and tagged 1987, concert, Graceland, Hugh Masekela, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Miriam Makeba, music, music writing, Paul Simon, YouTube playlist, Zimbabwe. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.