This is the track that started the response of both praise and uproar to Paul Simon’s Graceland album. It was the final track recorded for the album and was debuted by Paul on Saturday Night Live before the album had even come out, and the acknowledgement of musical awesomeness was almost instant.
To brief the back story here, Paul was coming off a failed album Hearts & Bones, his first disappointment commercially as a solo artist. He was beginning to become heavily influenced by African music and the organic sounds that were being created by those musicians, and thus had the idea to “revamp” his approach for his next album. He traveled to South Africa, hooked up with some of these artists he had grown to appreciate, and began crafting the tracks that would evolve into the Graceland LP. The real hoopla over this record (at the time anyway) is that the country was in the middle of Apartheid.. war was ramped, cultural boycotting, and in the eyes of certain civil rights activists of the day “here comes Paul Simon, rich white guy, trying to exploit poor African musicians and steal their music”. All would be counter debated by Simon, as well as the musicians who were grateful to work with him, that the end product of music was as harmonious as people should be in real life.
“Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes” would prove to be one of the most enriched tracks from the album, as it begins with a sweet African prayer for the first minute of the song before easing into a clarity riff, quickly followed by the beautiful low-end section of percussion. The signature of the track though is the African-acappella chants that are rounded out by vocal act Ladysmith Black Mambazo, whom would accompany Simon on the famed SNL performance, and catapult the album to classic stature. Incredibly organic!