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HeadlineThe Heidi Berg story

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Bodo  
Dec-26-2008, 19:19 GMT
Austria


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Does anyone know if this story is true? Or any background info?

ItīS again from this page:
http://stereogum.com/archives/video/david-byrne-do
es-paul-simon-the-worlds-biggest-pri_009106.html


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Actually, itīs a way worse story than even Steve Berlin realizes. If you look at the liner notes, the first person Paul Crime On mentions is Heidi Berg. Paul was a mentor and unofficial producer at the suggestion of Lorne Michaels with a young singer-songwriter named Heidi Berg. She was band leader and guitarist for Lornes ill-fated "The New Show". She discovered a tape of South African Accordion music called Gumboots Accordion Jive Hits. She had been listening to it for months and in one of her weekly sessions with the Apalling one, she said she wanted her album to have some of the same accordion feel as this weird tape. She was Norwegian and played accordion too. Small told her to let him borrow the tape and heīd give her his opinion. She lent him the tape and he disappeared. Did not return her calls...was incommunicado. Then after a few weeks she gets an invite from Simeonīs office to come hear him do a set of his hits in a one man show in Saratoga. She goes to the show and goes backstage afterwards. Heīs all sweetness and light. She casually asks him about the tape. He says that he bought all the rghts to the tape and heīs going to Africa to record with the band. Sheīs floored. She expresses her outrage and hurt. He says, "well, you were free to go to africa too." She says "I didīnt think you were my competitor". He says "You try to compete with me little girl, and Iīll cut you down where you stand". He recorded his record and actually used THE EXACT TRACKS FROM THE GUMBOOTS TAPE for several songs...You Can Call Me Al was lifted straight from the original Gumboots tape. Of course it says words and music by Paul Simon. As far as we know, heīs never given Heidi Berg a dime. He sent her a gold record, and then a platinum record and credited her as "a friend who gave me a tape".....if there is a hell, heīll rot in it for eternity. Hey Paul, what goes around comes around. The whole world is watching....

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Well, the story could have some true moments (there was a concert in Saratoga...) But I do not believe Paul said these words.
And If You can call me Al was recorded exact as from this tape, and became a worldwide hit later - then I am sure someone would have complained.
So what is it about this story?

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nancy
Dec-26-2008, 21:05 GMT
USA - United Staates America


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I donīt believe this for a a second. Sounds like a trashy urban legend to me!

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Ian
Dec-26-2008, 21:37 GMT
Unknown


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Bodo,you beat me to it. I was going to start a thread about it,but assumed everyone read the same thing anyway. I agree with Nancy on this-urban legend for sure,but one created especially to do harm. By including well known facts into the story,it seems to have the ring of authenticity,but I believe itīs nonsense. Firstly,īYou Can Call Me Alī,was recorded in New York. This is a fact,unless they are implicating Baghiti Khumalo and Ray Phiri etc in this travesty,as they both comment on the recording of the song on the īMaking of Gracelandī DVD. Are they also liars? Secondly,as Bodo said,Paul is extremely careful in manner and speech,and the words attributed to him just come off as completely un-authentic. Where is this all going to end?

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mog
Dec-28-2008, 04:55 GMT
Canada


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I had always thought that YCCMA was pure Simon !!

I am wondering what Heidi Berg would want exactly, if these anecdotes are true...I mean, she had that tape, but was not the author in any way of the music on it. It is true that without her, maybe anything of this would have happened, but the hard work is Simonīs and the one provided by the session musicians and those credited.

On the other hand, as you know, I have always been curious about the music on that tape. AFAIK, it seems to have completely vanished. It remains unavailable to the mortal man.

With the multiple re-editions of Graceland (e.g. 1997, 2004), I would have been interested in hearing some of these original tracks, but we got nothing. As if it was in Simonīs interest - in order not to diminish the glory of this success - that Nobody ever hear these tracks.

A theory...I might be wrong.

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Ian
Dec-28-2008, 05:58 GMT
Norway


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Yes,I also wondered what Heidi Berg wanted. Credit for owning an unauthorised recording? Apart from her hurt feelings[assuming the story is true,of course] that Paul stole away with the tape,and her idea,she obviously couldnīt want a writers credit. She did get credit though,on the album,and in interviews,for the part she played. As far as the īGumbootsī tape,was it just the music of The Boyoyo Boys,or a collection of different bands and styles of South African music? Finally,one has to ponder- If Heidi Berg had been the one to go to South Africa to record,would she have taken the severe punishment from from the liberal media that Paul did? Furthermore,would she have been able to make a hit out of the music on that tape? This is perhaps the best testament to Paul Simonīs craft we have- To paraphrase Paul himself- to take those īdisparate aural elementsī and create something seamless,beautiful and timeless AND give his writers and performers due credit,AND to make it a hit. Far easier said than done.

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Bodo
Dec-28-2008, 13:19 GMT
Austria


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I searched for Heidi Berg on the internet - was she the voice/sing of some muppet songs later?

I can agree on everything what has been said - we can doubt that it would have become known to the world if Heidi Berg recorded some accordeon for her music. But I guess thats not the point. As Paul had a worldwide hit album with these songs, everyone believed he could do that too.


I also want the Gumboots tape. Somehow it IS STRANGE that we never heard about it, and that there isnīt even a bootleg somewhere. Well even if Paul bought all rights then this record must have been sold in Africa before. Maybe we should begin to search? Or was this just one demo band African musicians have send to Warner? Even then I believe Heidi Berg would have keept a copy to listen too...and could share it as a bootleg.
But the story around this tape is so mysterious, that Paul should release it one day with a new fans-super-hyper Graceland package.

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Rosemary in Time
Dec-28-2008, 14:06 GMT
United Kingdom


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Youīre right, Bodo. Thereīs something a bit odd about the existence of that never-heard Gumboots tape. I think the Heidi Berg story is probably partly made up but thereīs something about it that rings true. Paul Simon is a very competitive person and anyone whoīs watched the Old Songs of America film can see that heīs sometimes pretentious, aggressive and just not very nice. No, I donīt really believe this Heidi Berg story but thereīs something not completely false about it either. I hope someone can find us that Gumboots tape.

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Ian
Dec-28-2008, 14:19 GMT
Norway


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Bodo,I remember reading once years ago that the īGumbootsī tape was home recorded from vinyl. Whether or not that means there was an L.P. called īGumboots-Accordian Jive Hits Vol 2ī I donīt know,but it does sound like the title of some studio released compilation,not a name given by the person transferring it from vinyl. What else do we know about the tape? The artists included on the tape,and therefore the album itself were linked to the record company Gallo Records I believe. Paul traced it with the help of Warners,and a guy named Hilton Rosenthal. Given we have access to the internet,Iīm confident we could track down a vinyl copy somewhere. Iīm certain that the only song [recording] on the tape that Paul used was Gumboots-anything else from the tape was re-recorded and credits and money paid[3 times the Musicians Union Scale apparently]. You can see Paul jamming and recording at Ovation Studios on the song that became īI Know What I Knowī on the Graceland doco. Maybe Iīll try Ebay.

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Bodo  
Dec-28-2008, 14:23 GMT
Austria


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Hi Ian

I do not want to destroy your dreams, but I guess you might not find this item on ebay. I know collectors having really everything, but there list does not include a Gumboots vynil or bootleg.

Maybe we have more luck if we can get in touch with a person at Gallo records...
http://www.gallo.co.za/

(As we see, Warner might have bought parts of this company...)

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Mimi
Dec-28-2008, 14:24 GMT
Austria


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If this cassette is a little bit like we exchanged music in those days, then I would not be surprised if it canīt be found. Everybody made tapes of their favourite music and mixed them together and shared it with friends. I remember that Warner
did some research for him who the group is, so it sounds like a copy of something with no information on it, who the artists were.

@ Rosemary: Where on "songs of America" do you think he is aggressive? I donīt remember a scene like that.

By the way. If Graceland hadnīt become THAT big hit, then I am quite sure, Nobody would have cared about all these things.

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Bodo
Dec-28-2008, 14:56 GMT
Austria


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Hi Rosemary :)

I have to re-watch the Songs of America video. Havenīt seen that for years now.

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Bodo
Dec-28-2008, 15:16 GMT
Austria


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I wrote an email to Gallo records now.

The problem might be, this company (G.R.C.) was incorporated into Gallo Africa In 1985.

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Rosemary in Time
Dec-28-2008, 15:25 GMT
United Kingdom


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Good luck, Bodo! Youīre always a good detective at things like this. How exciting it would be to hear that tape just as Paul Simon originally heard it.

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Bodo
Dec-28-2008, 15:27 GMT
Austria


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More: I found that most if not all of the artists from this Gumboot recording are not active anylonger.
(Boyoyo Boys, Tao Ea Masekha..)

But I found this article about General M.D. shirinda from 2007
http://www.zoutnet.co.za/details.asp?StoNum=5288

It looks like as if they are living from bread and butter today...but what can you do when you have 49 children...

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Ian
Dec-28-2008, 17:54 GMT
Norway


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You know,in the last 24 hours or so,I have read so many negative stories and comments about Paul on the internet,that itīs starting to feel like the whole world is anti-Paul Simon. Maybe all these Los Lobos,Heidi Berg stories are nothing to concern ourselves with,but itīs very easy,within the times we live,to find someone of Paulīs public stature,demonised by the media,without any real evidence to back up the claims. One only has to remember the Michael Jackson case a few years back,as an example of what can happen. He went from being the Prince of Pop to a laughing stock who has depleted his wealth fighting of these charges. All that he accomplished before his troubles began are conveniently forgotten-now all we remember is some spurious accusations by some decidedly dodgy family instead. Iīm not defending Jackson,but as I remember,he was considered guilty long before his court case began. I DONīT want this to happen to Paul,but I read the articles AND the nasty comments left by others,& Iīm very concerned.

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