Song Lyric Sunday — On Your Feet!

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams once again looks to Paula Light (Light Motifs II) for inspiration. And Paula gave us Socks, Shoes, Boots, and Feet to work with. I decided to go with Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.”

“Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” was written and recorded by the American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. It was the fourth single from his 1986 studio album, Graceland. The song features guest vocals from the South African male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Paul Simon traveled to South Africa in 1985 and recorded with various local musicians, gathering tracks that would be used on the Graceland album. While he was there, he met with the leader of a vocal group called Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and he flew them to London to record the song “Homeless.”

Simon and the group bonded at these sessions, and when Paul was finishing the album in New York, he brought them in to back him on his “Saturday Night Live” appearance on May 10, 1986.

Paul Simon said that the songs on the album Graceland, including this one were not at all political. He considered writing political songs for Graceland, but decided against it, since he wasn’t very good at it and the point of the project was to bring the sound of South Africa to the world, not its politics.

Simon said that he worked very hard to lace the lyrics around the tracks, which was tricky since there was so much going on in the rhythms. The result on this song was a lot of clever wordplay and an abstract story about a rich girl in New York City and her suitors. A clue that there might not be too deep a meaning here is in the line, “and I could say ‘ooo ooo ooo’ as if everybody knows what I’m talking about.”

Simon felt that this song was one of his best musical achievements. He said the song suited his voice very well.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo sing in Zulu on this song. Their refrain 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.”

Here are the lyrics to Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.”

(A-wa) O kodwa you zo-nge li-sa namhlange 
(A-wa a-wa) Si-bona kwenze ka kanjani
(A-wa a-wa) Amanto mbazane ayeza
She's a rich girl
She don't try to hide it
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes

He's a poor boy
Empty as a pocket
Empty as a pocket with nothing to lose
Sing Ta na na
Ta na na na

She got diamonds on the soles of her shoes
She got diamonds on the soles of her shoes
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes

People say she's crazy
She got diamonds on the soles of her shoes
Well that's one way to lose these
Walking blues
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes

She was physically forgotten
Then she slipped into my pocket
With my car keys
She said you've taken me for granted
Because I please you
Wearing these diamonds

And I could say Oo oo oo
As if everybody knows
What I'm talking about
As if everybody would know
Exactly what I was talking about
Talking about diamonds on the soles of her shoes

She makes the sign of a teaspoon
He makes the sign of a wave
The poor boy changes clothes
And puts on after-shave
To compensate for his ordinary shoes

And she said honey take me dancing
But they ended up by sleeping
In a doorway
By the bodegas and the lights on
Upper Broadway
Wearing diamonds on the soles of their shoes

And I could say Oo oo oo
As if everybody here would know
What I was talking about
I mean everybody here would know exactly
What I was talking about
Talking about diamonds

People say I'm crazy
I got diamonds on the soles of my shoes
Well that's one way to lose
These walking blues
Diamonds on the soles of our shoes

16 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — On Your Feet!

  1. Maria Michaela May 8, 2022 / 3:06 am

    Awesome song, Fandango. This is first time I’ve heard of it and I love it. That intro was just perfect

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nope, Not Pam May 8, 2022 / 3:15 am

    Love this song. Great choice Fandango

    Liked by 2 people

  3. newepicauthor May 8, 2022 / 6:43 am

    Graceland was a brave new departure for Paul Simon that really worked. Nice music Fandango.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Susan St.Pierre May 8, 2022 / 8:57 am

    Graceland is a personal favorite of mine! Paul Simon is a legend. When I was in high school, I used to borrow Mirriam Makeba albums from our school library. I’d play them as i fell asleep. African music enchants.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango May 8, 2022 / 10:36 pm

      Thanks. It is a great song. So full of joy.

      Like

    • Fandango May 8, 2022 / 10:44 pm

      Yes he is, Greg, and this song (and album) was quite a great way to expand his musical horizons…and ours.

      Like

  5. leigha66 May 9, 2022 / 6:40 am

    That is one album I would still love to have. I unfortunately have not heard a lot of it, but have loved everything that I have heard and remember it winning awards and amazing reviews. I need to win a music shopping spree (and a house addition with killer sound system to produce the ideal sound for all of it) to get the perfect equipment and LOTS of tunes!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s