Song of the Day #3,164: ‘Spirit Voices’ – Paul Simon

rhythm_of_the_saintsAs I wrote at the beginning of the week, I had a hard time coming up with five 1990 albums for this list. But I had no problem coming up with my #1, Paul Simon’s The Rhythm of the Saints.

Following up the all-time classic Graceland four years later was no easy task, but Simon delivered, creating an album that similarly married world music with his plaintive melodies.

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Song of the Day #1,254: ‘Further to Fly’ – Paul Simon

Following the release of The Rhythm of the Saints, my family would debate whether this or Graceland was his greatest album.

Initially I sided with Rhythm, citing its earthy, exotic flavors and the way it turned world music into gorgeous pop. Eventually I came back around to Graceland‘s unique tour of South Africa via the Upper West Side. But there is no loser in that battle.

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Song of the Day #1,253: ‘The Obvious Child’ – Paul Simon

It’s hard to imagine a tougher act to follow than Paul Simon’s Graceland, but four years after that album’s release, he put out an album that can reasonably be called its equal.

1990’s The Rhythm of the Saints doubled down on the exotic rhythms of its predecessor, with Simon looking to South America rather than Africa for the rich percussion over which he spun his melodies. The album sounds as if it were recorded in the crowded streets of a Brazilian town (and in the case of some songs, it was).

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Song of the Day #632: ‘She Moves On’ – Paul Simon

Graceland was a hard act to follow, to put it mildly, but four years later, Simon pulled it off by releasing 1990’s The Rhythm of the Saints, an album that built on the world music fusion of his masterpiece but felt like something completely new.

I was in my freshmen year of college when The Rhythm of the Saints came out and it was the first Paul Simon album that I bought on its release day. Before that, all of Simon’s music I had inherited or discovered. I spent my high school years familiarizing myself with the Simon and Garfunkel catalog, old classics I’d missed out on growing up. But the idea of new Paul Simon music that was new to the rest of the world, too, was exciting.

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