This week I really couldn’t think of a song that dealt with class in the US so I chose to do “Homeless” by Paul Simon and Joseph Shabalala. Joseph Shabalala is the leader of the vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. After seeing this group perform in the documentary The Rhythm of Resistance: The Music of South Africa, Simon was interested in recording with them. This documentary was displaying the resistance to apartheid South Africa through music. When he travelled to South Africa in 1985 he met with Shabalala and got to listen to all the records the group had made. Simon said, “I was bewitched by Ladysmith Black Mambazo because they were so beautiful. The music was enchanting – it was all a cappella, and it was so beautiful that I was intimidated. They were so good at what they did and it was so contained that I didn’t know at the time how I could possibly fit into their world, and if they wanted me to fit into their world.” Upon returning to the US, Simon wrote the English pieces of “homeless” and recorded them on a tape that he sent to the group in South Africa. The introduction to the song was a traditional weeding son with the words re-written to add to the theme of homelessness and despair. They later recorded the track in Abbey Road studio in London. Shabalala also added lots of other words that used the idea of homelessness and struggle to voice the horrors of apartheid. They were trying to draw attention to the people that had to live with this reality and I think that this song represents a good bond between an American artist and artists in other places. It helps raise awareness more than it outwardly protests but I think it is a step in the right direction.
“Homeless by Paul Simon Songfacts.” Homeless by Paul Simon Songfacts. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.