OK, so I'm driving by Graceland doing my job one hot summer day when an ambulance pulls out. I figure that Colonel Parker has had a stroke or something. But, it turns out that they are taking Elvis' dead, bloated body out of Graceland.

Why was I right there in traffic at that minute? What were Elvis' last words? ("Corn?")

And now Dr. Nick is doing a whore-show at some casino in Tunica, MS about his "Memories of Elvis."

Hell, that's like O.J. doing a show in Vegas about "Nicole's Final Wish."

"Thank you for what Graceland has done for our people." - Nelson Mandela.

A classic 1986 album from Paul Simon, also featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Youssou Ndour, and Los Lobos on some songs.

1. The Boy in the Bubble
2. Graceland
3. I Know What I Know
4. Gumboots
5. Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
6. You Can Call Me Al
7. Under African Skies
8. Homeless
9. Crazy Love, Vol. II
10. That Was Your Mother
11. All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints

The textbook definition of cultural diffusion. Paul Simon was the target of much criticism for not only working in South Africa at a time when it was under a worldwide economic boycott because of apartheid (which was just silly since he worked with black musicians), but also for "exploiting" those musicians and "stealing" African culture. Since Paul Simon has never been shy about giving credit, and is probably responsible for the worldwide success of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the first can be dismissed out of hand. The second is from people who have no idea how culture works. Influence is not theft, and culture is not a zero sum game. Because Picasso was influenced by African art does not diminish African culture. It adds to both European and African culture: Europe gains from fresh ideas, and Africa sees its culture interpreted in a new way.

This album is in part about demolishing those arbitrary racial, geographic, and cultural differences that separate us. Just look at the title of one of the songs, "The Myth of Fingerprints," a title that boldly and succintly declares that there are no differences between people at all.

The title track:

The Mississippi Delta was shining
Like a national guitar
I am following the river
Down the highway
Through the cradle of the civil war

I'm going to Graceland
In Memphis Tennessee
I'm going to Graceland
Poorboys and Pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland
My traveling companion is nine years old
He is the child of my first marriage
But I've reason to believe
We both will be received
In Graceland

She comes back to tell me she's gone
As if I didn't know that
As if I didn't know my own bed
As if I'd never noticed
The way she brushed her hair from her forehead
And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow

I'm going to Graceland
Memphis Tennessee
I'm going to Graceland
Poorboys and Pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland

And my traveling companions
Are ghosts and empty sockets
I'm looking at ghosts and empties
But I've reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

There is a girl in New York City
Who calls herself the human trampoline
And sometimes when I'm falling, flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
Oh, so this is what she means
She means we're bouncing into Graceland
And I see losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow

In Graceland, in Graceland
I'm going to Graceland
For reasons I cannot explain
There's some part of me wants to see
And I may be obliged to defend
Every love, every ending
Or maybe there's no obligations now
Maybe I've a reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

Naming an album of African music after the home of a white American rock star is no bizarre juxtaposition or accident, it’s about highlighting the musical links between Africa and America. Graceland, of course, was the home of Elvis Presley, and in this song Simon depicts Graceland (and by extension Elvis) as the source of modern American music. "The Mississippi Delta is shining like a national guitar" - Simon explicity links music and fertility. River deltas are historically a source of culture and civilization: the Ganges, the Nile, etc. In this fertile Mississippi delta, the American and African musical traditions blended together. Elvis synthesized white and black music to create a vital new musical form, rock and roll. Elvis is the fountainhead, the source of the river, the wellspring of rock and roll.

What is ignored in the arguments claiming Elvis or Paul Simon or whoever "stole" African or black music is that cultural diffusion is a two way process. While American music would be nothing without its African influences, contemporary African music owes much to rock and roll. Groups like Ladysmith Black Mambazo heard American records and combined those influences with African musical traditions.

That is what Graceland is about – how music transcends our arbitrary and petty political, racial, and geographic differences.
Graceland, Elvis' home/shrine/Atlantean UFO hanger, got its name from the previous inhabitant. The land was owned by a wealthy woman named Grace Toof. After Grace Toof died the property was divided equally among her niece Ruth Brown Moore and two nephews. The nephews sold their plots. Ruth was a big fan of Gone with the Wind and in 1940 built a mansion befitting a fine southern lady and imitating the mansion featured in the movie. She named the house/property Graceland in honor of her aunt Grace Toof. Grace Toof herself inherited the property from her father S.C. Toof, a wealthy owner of a printing firm.

In 1957 some relatives of Elvis spotted the mansion and thought it would be a home befitting of the burgeoning music star. Elvis promptly bought it for $100,000.

Graceland was officially inducted into the American National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

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