Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Paul Simon: Under African Skies

This is a stunning song that I have just discovered. Its quite old, dating from the Graceland concert of 1986 but what a song. The poetry is up to Paul Simon's usual high standards (I reckon he would make a decent living as a poet alone) but it is the blending of music with words (the essence of the songwriters craft) that transforms this into really great art.

The sympathetic use of the Southern African rhythms, melodies and instruments gives not just a flavour of the exotic but almost a whole new hybrid form of folk music. You can listen to the song performed by Paul Simon and Miriam Makeba (another truly great singer) here

The text is reproduced below:

Under African Skies by Paul Simon

Joseph's face was black as night
The pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked
By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
And he walked his days
Under African skies
This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

In early memory
Sounds of music
Were ringing 'round my Grandmother's door
I said take this child,
From The Township of Mukulo
Give her the wings to fly through harmony
And she won't bother you no more

This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

Joseph's face was black as night
And the pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked
By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
And he walked the length of his days
Under African skies

A couple of other great songs from that concert (featuring the Ladysmith Black Mambazo are Call Me Al and Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.

You can watch Paul Simon talking to Joseph, the leader of the Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the making of some of the music here.

3 comments:

Scrumpulicious said...

South African music rocks! I was over there last year and managed to see a few acts. :)

Jack Point said...

You were really lucky, congratulations.

Gutterflower said...

I've been hooked onto Miriam Makeba ever since I heard 'Pata pata'.

Never thought I'd hear a Paul Simon and Miriam Makeba combo though. Good stuff.