Tuesday, November 19, 2019

"Graceland" by Paul Simon

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  2957
Date:  12/06/1986
Debut:  92
Peak:  81
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The week this single debuted, Simon's album Graceland was initially peaking at #6. Solid reviews of the worldbeat-style LP along with three Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year, contributed to sales. But it still had yet to spawn a significant single. The LP's first one, "You Can Call Me Al," just missed out on the Pop Top 40 at #44 (a reissue in '87 would do better). This title track second single could barely get off the ground. It did better at AC (#34) and Rock (#38), but it just wasn't something that was going to boost album sales. However, Graceland would win the Grammy for Album of the Year early in '87 and that helped turn the LP around.

ReduxReview:  As a song, this was a highlight from the Graceland album. As a single, it didn't work. Of course, Graceland wasn't created to be a single-generating commercial effort, so it wasn't too surprising that this song couldn't make any headway even though it might have been the logical second attempt at a single. Still, as good as the song is, it should not have won a Grammy for Record of the Year (see below). Up to this point, nods in the Record of the Year category were nearly all hit singles. That's what helped them become Record of the Year winners. They were popular records that folks bought and heard on the radio. This song wasn't any of that. The fact it was even nominated was weird. But the Grammys were extra loyal to artists like Simon who were long established previous winners. It was like the old guard decided that rewarding Simon again for Graceland was better than giving more attention to an upstart rock band's #1 hit. Ugh. Well, that's the Grammys for ya. Anyway, good album track, not a good single.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) For the 1987 Grammy Awards, this song was nominated in the Song of the Year category, which is one for composition. Songs nominated do not have to be released as singles. However, they do for the Record of the Year category. Unfortunately, "Graceland" was issued as a single after the deadline for the '87 Grammys. It was then eligible for the '88 Grammys and received a nomination for Record of the Year. It surprisingly won beating out the odds-on-favorite U2's #1 hit "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." It would be the lowest charting song to ever win in that category until 2009 when a non-charting single, "Please Ready the Letter" by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, won the award.  2) When Simon was forming this song, he used the word "Graceland" as a sort of placeholder until he could come up with other lyrics. But after its repeated use, he though it was meant to be in the song. Graceland was Elvis Presley's famous home in Memphis, Tennessee, and Simon had not been there before and decided he better go and tour the home. Part of this song was based on his trip to see the landmark.  3) The Everly Brother sang backup vocals on this track. Simon and Garfunkel were heavily influenced by the duo. They even included a live version of the Everly's 1957 #2 hit "Bye Bye Love" on their 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. Oddly, the night before writing this post I was watching Ken Burns' Country Music documentary and at the point The Everly Brothers were discussed, Paul Simon showed up telling how he took an extensive 2-hour round trip back and forth twice in the same day to a record store to purchase "Bye Bye Love." He did it twice because when he got home with the single the first time, he accidentally scratched it after the first listen. Desperately wanting to hear it again he walked out the door and made the trek to the record store again.


No comments:

Post a Comment