Paul Simon might be music's greatest mixologist.
He tells the Los Angeles Times that drawing from diverse global influences is "how you mix sound -- you mix sound like mixing colors."
His Grammy-winning album Graceland, recorded with South African musicians, is a perfect example. Another is Simon and Garfunkel classic "El Condor Pasa." "Artie and I never thought we couldn’t do that as a pop song, even though it’s a 300- or 400-year-old [Peruvian] song... Pop music has always been able to go to some odd places."
Simon also cites "Skokian," the '50s instrumental popularized by Louis Armstrong and Bill Haley that originated in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia); the reggae-ska influenced "Florence" a doo-wop hit for The Paragons; and the unlikely 1963 success of Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto’s "Sukiyaki."
Simon concludes, "You see the scope of what’s going on, from rhythm and pop and folk to African to neo-classical, and that all of this flows together and it all works, even though you might think it was disparate and not going to work."