Paul Simon obviously has a lot of hit songs. He’s got a lot of goofy B-sides too. Some of the best gems that Paul Simon ever put out however, are the hit songs that have that strange B-side goofiness factor. “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” is one of those songs you hear for the first time and think, “this song is good, but honestly a little weird…” Rather than being accompanied by his normal singing companion Art Garfunkel, the South African male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo joins Paul Simon for a differentiated integration of musical cultures.
The style and premise of “Diamonds On The Souls Of Her Shoes” may seem strange at first glance, but Paul Simon was actually inspired to write it when he visited South Africa. During his time there he gathered music from local musical groups and musicians, risking imprisonment during during the apartheid. The refrain sung by Ladysmith Black Mambazo is in Zulu, and roughly translates to, “It’s not usual but in our days we see those things happen. They are women, they can take care of themselves.” You gotta give the guy credit, Paul Simon certainly was drawing inspiration from righteous places for his fun and differentiated songs.