Great Performances: Paul Simon's Graceland Journey (shoot ...)

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    Great Performances: Paul Simon's Graceland Journey (shoot ...)

    I didn't catch this program, as I saw the listing belatedly,  but PBS' Great Performances premiered their latest installment on 1/4/13; it featured the documentary on Paul Simon's best-selling and history-making album, Graceland. 

    The film premiered on A&E last year, and is included in the Graceland 25th anniversary box set, so it's bound to be good.   Also, it seems that Paul Simon keeps a very low profile, so this is a rare opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes view of his work.   Sorry I missed it, but I am sure it will be repeated; check your local listings.  

    Did anyone catch it (or DVR it)?  

    Here's a nice writeup:

    "This 2012 documentary film, directed by Joe Berlinger, premiered on A&E, and was included in the deluxe Graceland 25th-anniversary box set. But if you didn’t catch it there, make sure to catch it here.

    It’s the behind-the-scenes story of Paul Simon’s biggest-selling album, the 1986 Graceland, for which he sought out South African rhythms – and musicians. Simon talks about the political fallout of going to South Africa to recruit and record, and stories about how he massaged the music tracks and wrote lyrics to fit. Simon usually is reluctant to talk about his lyric inspirations and procedures – but here, he’s both eloquent and honest, and his story about how the song “Graceland” came about is fascinating. So is the rest of this documentary, a worthy companion to the LP itself. In addition to rehearsal footage from the original recording and a recent reunion tour, it includes new interviews with the record’s musicians, as well as with Paul McCartney, David Byrne, Quincy Jones and others. The clip of Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, previewing “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” on Saturday Night Live, is called “the perfect moment” by producer Lorne Michaels – and he’s right. Check local listings. "

     
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    Re: Great Performances: Paul Simon's Graceland Journey (shoot ...)

    I saw most of it, much to my wife's displeasure. She can't stand Paul Simon. I had to concede her point that he isn't much of a singer.

    My interest in the documentary was mainly the story of South Africa and the musicians Simon recruited to play on the album. I really enjoyed their story. I have to admit that there is something about Paul Simon that bugs me, though not as much as it bugs my wife. I think it has to do with my perception of his ego. While the South African musicians seemed genuine, humble, and full of the joy of music, Simon seemed to me to be mostly concerned with himself and his career.

     
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    Re: Great Performances: Paul Simon's Graceland Journey (shoot ...)

    I wanted to also post this review ---  it seems to jibe with what you said, DD, but also might help to mitigate some of the negativity.    It's good to know ahead of time that it's detailed and analytical, and not for the casual fan who isn't interested on that level.   

    By Verne Gay, Newsday

    PAUL SIMON’S GRACELAND JOURNEY: UNDER AFRICAN SKIES
    PBS’ Great Performances

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Paul Simon called it “in many ways the most significant achievement of my career,” and also the most controversial _ 1986’s transcendent “Graceland,” portions of which were produced in apartheid South Africa in the midst of a United Nations-declared ban on cultural exchanges.

     

    “Under African Skies” offers an extremely detailed accounting of the album’s genesis, and specifically of Simon’s collaboration with black South African musicians _ whose distinctive rhythms, riffs and hooks made up the fusion sound of “Graceland.” It also looks at the political firestorm that followed. Some of the many interviews here include: Joseph Shabalala, founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, brought to world prominence by “Graceland”; Dali Tambo, founder of Artists Against Apartheid, and a prominent Simon critic who says, “We saw him come in here as a threat” to the anti-apartheid movement; and even Oprah Winfrey, who calls “Graceland” her “favorite album of all time.”

    Reflecting on the old and now largely forgotten battles with those who said he hurt  the anti-apartheid movement, Simon says, “The intensity of the criticism did surprise me.” He also remains unrepentant.

    MY SAY: Great albums certainly deserve great anniversary tribute documentaries, and “Under African Skies” (produced by Joe Berlinger, of the “Paradise Lost Trilogy”) comes reasonably close _ at least for those who look back on “Graceland” as the absolute epitome of musical accomplishments of the ’80s. For everyone else, perhaps there’s too much detail and analysis. Many fine archival performances are here (and good reunion ones, too), but the film really is only partially about the music, more centrally about an artist’s individual rights.

     

    Simon asserts an artist should stand above and beyond the political tumult of the moment, though considering the white-hot heat of that particular moment _ apartheid, which ended in 1990 _ it may all now sound a bit naive or even self-serving. But the passage of time has certainly validated his position. By bringing these musicians to the world stage, Simon may have helped hasten apartheid’s end.

    BOTTOM LINE: Can’t miss for “Graceland” fans. The political background is icing on this cake.

     
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    Re: Great Performances: Paul Simon's Graceland Journey (shoot ...)

    I do think that Paul Simon did a good thing by providing these South African musical artists with greater exposure and even bringing more awareness of apartheid. I also happen to think that artists should always be free to express themselves, regardless of the political fallout. I support that view of the artist that Simon holds. I can dislike the man but also give him credit for the good he did with his uncompromising stance.

     
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    Re: Great Performances: Paul Simon's Graceland Journey (shoot ...)

    I believe that Classic Albums also covered Simon's Graceland in its typically comprehensive way (though I may be mistaken).

    Without a doubt, one of the best albums of the 80s and one of Simon's best in a 50+ year career.

     

     

     
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    Re: Great Performances: Paul Simon's Graceland Journey (shoot ...)

    Yah Yoga, I watched some of that PBS special good show!

    I went to Paul Simons Graceland concert, in a word - AWESOME!

     
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