Paul Simon’s Graceland, plus 25

When the Graceland album comes out in the fall of 1986, there are a lot of positive reviews, though there is some discussion of cultural imperialism, talk Simon occasionally faced directly,

On June 5, the 25th anniversary edition of the landmark Paul Simon album Graceland will be released. It has a few demo or alternate tracks, plus something described as “The Story of ‘Graceland’ as told by Paul Simon,” which could be interesting. But what is really intriguing is the DVD that comes with it, Under African Skies, directed by Joe Berlinger, which I saw on A&E a few days ago. It not only discusses the making of the album, and shows the reunion of many of the artists; it also addresses the huge controversy over the album and the subsequent tour.

There was a United Nations cultural (and other) boycott of South Africa at the time Continue reading “Paul Simon’s Graceland, plus 25”

Kennedy Center Honors 2010

Paul has become the legacy Beatle, as opposed to Ringo’s All-Starr gigs, which, no disrespect, always felt like the oldies-tour Beatles.

I’ve been watching the Kennedy Center Honors every year for decades, possibly since they began offering them in 1978. And while, in the early days, at least one performer per year was a bit obscure to me, as time passed, the awardees became much more familiar, in general. And there is usually at least one very moving segment such as Libera singing Love and Mercy to Brian Wilson in 2007, or Bettye LaVette singing Love Reign O’er Me to Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry of the Who in 2008. The celebration of “the Careers of Five Extraordinary Artists” took place on Sunday, December 5, 2010. The gala will be broadcast on CBS-TV on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 9:00-11:00 p.m., ET/PT.

For a long time, I knew Merle Haggard only for his song Okie from Muskogee, about which I had, at best, mixed feelings. But I subsequently discovered a wealth of tunes of Americana that transcended the narrow political box I had placed him in.

Jerry Herman wrote a wealth of Broadway musicals, but he is probably best known for Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles. Both of these have made multiple visits onto the Great White Way, and La Cage is in revival presently. Both of these productions were also turned into movies.

Though born in Florida, Bill T. Jones was raised in the Southern Tier of upstate New York, probably an hour from where I grew up Continue reading “Kennedy Center Honors 2010”

An American Need

Listening to the podcast of Arthur@AmeriNZ recently. He noted that Rachel Maddow of MSNBC apologized to US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for calling him Bernie. Arthur, an American now living in New Zealand was amused/bemused by this apology. In his adopted nation, the prime minister is first among equals, and is referred to by first name; the same tends to be true in the UK and in other countries that used to be called the British Commonwealth.

So what do they have that the United States doesn’t have? Continue reading “An American Need”