In Under African Skies, we get the full story of what the album meant to celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, and Harry Belafonte, as well as its impact on the South African musicians and on the anti-apartheid movement and on Paul Simon himself.
In both the CD and the DVD, those of us who love the music get to experience it again, and new listeners will get to discover the magic.
While "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" is one of my two favorite songs in the world, the entire recording is full of wonderful images, like "the bomb in the baby carriage," "the baby with the babbling heart," and "the human trampoline." Simon's style makes the whole CD feel like an intimate conversation about serious situations with a close friend, backed by incredible, joyous music.
Not all of the songs were recorded with South African artists. Simon recognized a similar sound in music from Louisiana and from Mexican-American music, so he recorded "That Was Your Mother" with Good Rockin' Dopsie and The Twisters, and "All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints" with Los Lobos. While "Graceland" featured South African musicians and the music was recorded in Johannesburg, the background vocals were provided by The Everly Brothers in Los Angeles, again reinforcing the collaborative nature of the work.
Graceland proves the power of music to overcome politics. My favorite moment in Under African Skies is during "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" when all of the musicians dance in a circle with Simon in the middle, and as each passes, they slap hands with him. That gesture of friendship and affection was so poignant, and says everything about the message of Graceland : "I've a reason to believe/We all will be received/In Graceland."