Letter U – Under African Skies- Paul Simon

This year for the 2023 A-Z Blog Challenge, I’m going to begin by listing a song or musical subject, and then see how fast and how far I can completely blow up my own “stream of consciousness,” and head “off the reservation,” by linking every real, and “Zulu Delta-imagined” fact, piece of music trivia, or not so apparent connection to what is racing around my head to that song in an “unstructured, graffiti-like” format. Complete and utter nonsense! Turn it up and turn it on, but as Van “The Man” Morrison said…….”It’s already turned on!”

Paul Simon released the album “Graceland” in August of 1986.

Before I even heard one song on the record, Graceland won the 1987 Grammy for “Album Of The Year.” At first, I wondered how a record with seemingly little airplay could have been that popular; until I heard the album for the first time. It was amazing.

The song “Under African Skies” was also on that album. The beautiful background voice you hear on the track is Linda Ronstadt, who even to my own surprise, has her name mentioned for a second time in this blog series.

I was saddened to read about the controversy on this album; no, not playing in South Africa, which eventually turned out wildly successful by all parties concerned, but by the allegations of plagiarism.

The accusations came from the Los Angeles based band Los Lobos, who claimed Simon “flat-out” stole the album song “All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints.” 

I have seen both Paul Simon and Los Lobos perform, and the concerts I saw were magnificent, despite Simon playing in the Providence Civic Center for 14,000 people, and Los Lobos playing for 1400 people in the dive venue “The Living Room.” The energy was the same.

Being labeled as a “dive,” is an honor and a curse. Providence, Rhode Island knew this well, and had four legendary “establishments” all with the letter “L” beginning their name. Let’s check them out.

“Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel.” Before it closed down for good, they filmed a movie there with real bands and real people thrown into the mix. The comedy movie was called “Complex World” was about a terrorist who wants to blow up the “Hotel.” It was funny and filled with great music from “Roomful of Blues,” “NRBQ,” and “The Young Adults;” a band David Byrne from the Talking Heads wanted to be in, but they turned him down.

“Living Room.” A place that was said to have waitresses so great that you could order a drink in a jammed packed house, then move to Arizona, and the waitress could still track you down and deliver the drink. 

“Leo’s.” It was an honor to see a band there, and play in a band there. The first time I walked in, I was one of 4 customers in the place and the 10-piece band “The Groovemasters” were playing with every bit of enthusiasm as any band I have ever seen. I would have called every person I knew to come down immediately, but we didn’t have cell phones then, and the payphone outside was tied up with a woman screaming about “Tony” being the worst boyfriend she ever had.

“Last Call Saloon.” “A place in the bottom of an old brick building across the street from the Speidel factory where they make wrist bands” is how people used to describe “15 Elbow Street” and the Last Call Saloon (typical directions for Rhode Island).


The Last Call Saloon, was a place where businessmen and artists mixed with bikers and college kids, and I NEVER once saw a fight. I did however see Duke Robillard, Wilson Picket, Loaded Dice, and Koko Taylor. 

Considering the recent $600-dollar prices to see some 75-year-old guy play 60-year-old music, The $5 cover charge at these places was a bargain!

A recording from The Young Adults, for the movie Complex World. Recorded at Lupos.

8 thoughts on “Letter U – Under African Skies- Paul Simon

    • Thanks M……..Rhode Island has been blessed with great music in “our” time! I knew you loved the Adults! A friend and I once snuck in to Harpo’s in Newport as high school seniors and sat at a table in the front row-wild! ZD


  1. Oh, yes, the 4 L’s! (Ironically appearing at U, but who are we to ask?) Lupo’s – I was in the front row when Chrissie Hynde dropped her guitar pick, and I still have it; The Living Room – 1400 could fit into the old LR on Westminster? Really? For the Schemers?; Leo’s – omg I loved the Groovematers, who played a couple of great sets on the Bay Queen for a School One fundraiser back in the day; and The Last Call, where I was shut off and then thrown out one time, but we’re not going there… Do bloggers give Commenters extra credit for semi-colons?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, If I had the 4 “L’s” appear at the letter L, it would have been as linear, boring, and predictable as only going to the Hard Rock Café for a unique experience!

      1400 at the Living Room-Bubble?????

      I danced on the bar top at the Last Call one night and didn’t get thrown out……….I’m impressed!!

      Having “over-served” on quotation marks myself, I’m not one to judge!!

      Thanks for reading!


    • John, I sent this to Martha but I think you would appreciate it!

      Thanks M……..Rhode Island has been blessed with great music in “our” time! I knew you loved the Adults! A friend and I once snuck in to Harpo’s in Newport as high school seniors and sat at a table in the front row-wild! ZD


  2. Ahh…..the old haunts. Unfortunately past history…. much like being able to afford a good music venue nowadays. But on the plus side, great blog!

    Liked by 1 person

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