Paul Simon, Collaboration vs. Apartheid

I recall when I attended community college in 1972 that I had protested against apartheid in South Africa. We wrote a petition to Polaroid against the use of their instant cameras as the photography medium for black South African inter-country passports. I bitterly opposed the suppression of rights in that country. Eventually apartheid was abolished.

Paul Simon faced controversy for seemingly breaking the cultural boycott imposed by the rest of the world against South Africa because of its policy of apartheid. In addition, some critics viewed Graceland as an exploitive appropriation of their culture. Following its completion, Simon toured alongside South African musicians, combining the music of Graceland and their own music.

My interest in this period of Paul Simon’s discography was reawakened when I saw CBS Sunday Morning. I was overjoyed to see Paul Simon’s world music instrument collection.

I listened several times to the 25th anniversary remastering of Graceland and decided to dive deeper with the Paul Simon documentary, Paul Simon: Under African Skies which examines multiples sides of the controversy that occurred. It has great concert footage and helps us to see the true common bond music and friendship can achieve.

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