It has been uplifting hearing the response of many famous artists to the devastation Hurricane Harvey has wreaked upon Houston. Coldplay recently gave a one time performance dedicated to those affected by the hurricane, and Paul Simon and his wife Edie Brickell donated $1 million to Harvey relief efforts. Tying the two together is Simon’s ’80s classic “Graceland,” recorded at the BBC’s Live Lounge by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.
Martin, as is always the case, performs with impeccable vocals. A crystalline, smooth tenor that uplifts, much like the original. Where the two singers differ is in the emotional output. Simon exudes a laid-back groove in his delivery, whereas Martin sings much more forward, extracting emotion out of every line.
A peppy, fully invested suite of instruments including a trombone, tenor sax, trumpet, rhythmic shakers and Martin on guitar provide the accompaniment. Combined with some sweet harmonies courtesy of a small vocal ensemble, it feels decidedly more like stripped-down gospel or a New Orleans street band.
Martin told the hosts he first heard the song as a 10-year old child living in Zimbabwe. “I was trying to get the attention of another 10 year old girl,” he said. “There was no texting in those days, but she was doing the eighties equivalent of not texting me back and I remember this song playing and thinking ‘at least the music is awesome.’”