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Why ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon is One of the Best Songs Ever

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By: Alex Marcheschi

It seems to be a common occurrence, legendary artists tend to become the most annoying political figures on the planet. My boy Paul Simon falls into that category:

Booooooo! Just raw creepiness in that video. The limp hand move? Foh with that Paul, damn.

This is from back when people thought Hillary was a lock. Hilarious false confidence from Paul in that video. Everybody in the crowd fake acting like they’re actually listening to a good song. Yikes. It happens to the best of em, I mean look at Dennis Rodman nowadays:

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But, just because you’re a weirdo now doesn’t mean you’re not still a legend. It’s the Mel Gibson Rule.

Rodman is the fiercest rebounder to ever live, and Paul Simon use to lay the mf’n lick down on tracks boy. I randomly stumbled upon The Story of “Graceland” as Told by Paul Simon yesterday and it is truly one of the most interesting things I’ve ever heard.

It’s a strange feeling to hear the real story behind a song you’ve been listening to for your whole life. Paul really pulled the curtains back with this one.

It reminded me of when I went back and read Silver Linings Playbook after watching the movie first. Just when you thought you knew the story, nope, completely different. Pretty wild. If you’re a fan of “Graceland,” listen to the story behind it below:

First of all, I’ve always thought that the first 1:05 of Graceland can step into the ring with any song ever. Raw fire. It’s such a weird vibe, using an African-style tune to describe Tennessee. Well, now we know why that is: Paul Simon recorded the song in South Africa. But, for some reason he had the word “Graceland” stuck in his head. He asked a South African musician to play his version of American Country music and you can hear what happened at 2:17 in the video. Can’t lie, that sound does just have a sunny Tennessee vibe to it. Amazing.

I also think it’s awesome that Simon intended for “Graceland” to be a traveling song. I’ve always just naturally thought it was a travel song. The perfect song for a summer drive. Think of it like this, “Graceland” is a optimistic travel song while “Two Step” by Dave Matthews Band is an ominous travel song:

But, back to The Story of “Graceland”, at 4:24 Simon explains how a pedal steel guitar is both a country instrument and a West African instrument, further explaining the weird American Country/African feel to the song.

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a pedal steel guitar

At 4:42, you can hear Simon verbally explain how he wanted the guitar lick to sound, and then they match it up with the actual guitar audio. Pretty cool.

At the 6:10 mark you can hear Simon explain how he couldn’t get the word “Graceland” out of his head. He was stuck singing it to this music, he tried to make the song about something else, but he couldn’t. So what was his only option? Take a road trip to Graceland. That’s how he got the lyric “the Mississippi Delta was shinin’ like a National guitar, I am following the river down the highway through the cradle of the Civil War.” ðŸ”¥ðŸ”¥ðŸ”¥

It’s also how he got the line, “my traveling companion is 9-years-old, he is the child of my first marriage. But I have reason to believe we both will be received in Graceland.” Such a blunt way to describe his kid.

He thinks the “Graceland” theme got stuck in his head because the original chords to the song sounded like an old-school Sun Records sound. Simon even says this song is 0% political, a pure travel song. That’s why it’s my favorite. Artists need to stop pretending like they’re political demigods and just make good music.

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