Some of the music of my life: Graceland


I often think I could divide the periods of my life by the major musical influences that shaped my psyche. It would certainly give an emotional landscape that is fairly accurate, not only of how I’ve lived my life til now, but what triggers memories. It’s always music.

I received my undergraduate degree from Douglass College at Rutgers University in 1985. That was the year of USA for Africa, singing “We are the World,”, that amazing precursor to LiveAid and all the benefit concerts that have become staples in our lives after a tragedy. Those same years were years of major protests on campus against Apartheid. As I sat with some of our 8th grade students in homeroom this pas week, watching CNN student news and a retrospective of the life of Nelson Mandela, it was hard to imagine that they really had no cultural frame of reference for that moment in time. It is a reminder that we must periodically tell our stories and share with students OUR history, the history we have lived, not just the one that preceded all of us in the textbooks.

After graduation I started graduate school, part time at NYU and worked full time in Manhattan. In 1986, I was lucky enough to see Paul Simon at Radio City Music Hall on the Graceland tour. The tickets were freebies, given to some of us working on the hotel staff where many of the musicians were staying. It was a transformational time in music and in my life. It was an amazing show. I went alone, had an excellent seat, and had a mind blowing experience. I remember crying as the concert ended. Seeing Ladysmith Black Mombaza on stage was a once in a lifetime experience, and I knew that.

Today’s New York Times article by Paul Simon brought it all back in happy, wafting memories.

Thanks, Mr. Simon!

About Kathleen McNamara Head's Up!

an educator in Independent Schools for over 28 years
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