In 1984 a friend gave him a tape of South African music called Gumboots: Accordion Jive Hits #2, and he listened to it over and over. For his next album, he wanted that sound - not just guys in New York playing African music, but the actual African musicians he heard on the tape. So in 1985 he went to South Africa and found them. During Apartheid.
This was a time when Nelson Mandela was still in jail and racial tensions in the country were feverous. But that was where the music lived, and Simon was determined to get it. What he found formed the bedrock of the Graceland album, which 25 years later stands as a musical and cultural triumph.
How did Paul Simon pull it off? That story is told in the documentary Under African Skies, available as part of the Graceland 25th Anniversary Box Set, which also includes concert footage from the tour and unreleased songs. Below are some of the true tales from the journey, and some me made up. See if you can tell Fact or Fiction in the 12-question Graceland edition.
More Fact or Fiction