Airs Friday, January 4 at 9:00 PM on WVIZ/PBS
Unbelievably enough, Paul Simon’s Graceland album is now a quarter-century old. Ordinarily, if it was remembered solely for the songs it brought into the world, that would be enough for most pop records. But it was also a musical triumph, an experiment in cross-cultural collaboration that also proved to be commercially popular, selling 14 million albums worldwide and generating three Top 40 singles, winning Grammys for both “Album of the Year” and “Song of the Year” for its title track. It still receives universal acclaim and is regarded today as one of the most significant recordings of its time. That says a lot about the record, but doesn’t tell the whole story. Much of the world of 1986 has changed, and key elements of Graceland’s history have receded into the fog of time. Why was it initially so controversial and why did Simon face such vehement criticism at the time? In 2011, acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger accompanied Simon on his return to South Africa to reunite and perform with several of the musicians involved in the original album, capturing Simon’s unique homecoming journey as he reflects on the landmark events as well as looks to the future.