How we begin to remember

Paul Simon in Africa, 1987.

Under African Skies

by Paul Simon

Joseph’s face was black as night
The pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked
By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
And he walked his days
Under African Skies

This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

In early memory
Mission music
Was ringing ‘round my nursery door
I said, “Take this child, Lord
From Tucson, Arizona
Give her the wings to fly through harmony
And she won’t bother you no more”

This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

Joseph’s face was black as night
The pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked
By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
And he walked the length of his days
Under African Skies

© 1986 Words and Music by Paul Simon


There is such joyful melancholy in these lyrics; the tone, the melody, the lyrics combine to make us want to know this Joseph whose path was marked by the stars of the Southern Hemisphere, and who walk the length of his days under African skies.

We want to know the story of how we begin to remember the powerful pulsing of love through our veins – being caught up in the roots of rhythm and the roots of rhythm remain.

I have a friend who relies on rhythm; sometimes when we worship or pray, he’ll put on jazz in the background to supply some down beat as we up-pray to the God of remembrance and rhythm and pathways under African skies.


For an interesting analysis of this song, go to “Every Single Paul Simon Song.”

To view a live performance, see “Live from Africa, 1987.”

About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
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