Thursday, February 12, 2009

Album of the Day

Graceland, by Paul Simon (1986): This has always been one of my favorite pop albums. The diverse influences filtered through Simon's songwriting lens produces some excellent results. But I learned a disturbing bit of news about it today. From my last AotD post about Graceland, five years ago:

But one of the best tunes ("All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints") has a closer-to-home set of collaborators - Los Lobos.
Turns out, they might be a bit more than collaborators:
The group Los Lobos appear on the last track, "All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints." According to Los Lobos's saxophone player Steve Berlin, Simon stole the song from Los Lobos, giving them no songwriting credit:

'It was not a pleasant deal for us. I mean he [Simon] quite literally — and in no way do I exaggerate when I say — he stole the songs from us... We go into the studio, and he had quite literally nothing. I mean, he had no ideas, no concepts, and said, 'Well, let's just jam.' ...Paul goes, 'Hey, what's that?' We start playing what we have of it, and it is exactly what you hear on the record. So we're like, 'Oh, ok. We'll share this song.' ...A few months later, the record comes out and says 'Words and Music by Paul Simon.' We were like, 'What the fuck is this?' We tried calling him, and we can't find him. Weeks go by and our managers can't find him. We finally track him down and ask him about our song, and he goes, 'Sue me. See what happens.'
Simon's response isn't exactly compelling, at least according to Wikipedia. Still a great tune, and a great album, but it's a shame it's stained by some controversy.

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