(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
Ta na na
Ta na na na
She got diamonds on the soles of her shoes
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes
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 ooh ooh ooh
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 ooh ooh ooh
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


Lyrics submitted by dank, edited by Heofpeanut, GrungyBeatle

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes Lyrics as written by Joseph Shabalala Paul Simon

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes song meanings
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66 Comments

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  • +13
    General Comment

    Although a valient effort by Sir Larrikin, I don't think people have looked deep enough here, or perhaps they are looking too deep. This song is about what almost every song is about - Love. "as if everybody knows what I'm talking about... talking about diamonds on the soles of her shoes." Who knows what diamonds on the soles of a person shoes means? Everybody knows love.

    As his entire Graceland albulm, this song is heavily influenced by the South African culture Simon observed while working there. He choses the perfect metaphore to describe the polar opposite positions of being in and out of love; the diamond trade. The diamond trade in S Africa created apartheide, setting up two of the most diametricaly opposed socio-economic classes in the modern world. As Sir Larrikin picked up on, this theme heavily influences the song. And while simon uses this metaphor for wealth, he means wealth of love.

    He starts by identifying our two characters, the rich girl and the poor boy. The rich girl has diamonds on the soles of her shoes. To pick this apart, we physically interact with our world most frequently with our feet. Everywhere we go, our feet are the part of us that have constant contact, that provide the most constant source of interaction with our physical envronment. If one has diamonds as the filter to their environment, it is like saying you see the world with rose colored glasses. Everywhere you go, your interaction is done through the diamonds on your shoes, and diamonds as a symbol of wealth, happiness and love mean you are interacting with your world through a constant 'happy' filter, you have a skip to your step, you are happy.

    Constrast this with the poor boy who is emptry as a pocket. he has nothing, saying he is empty as a pocket doesnt only imply that he is poor of material value, but that he is poor of spirit, of soul, of love.

    'People say shes crazy/ she's got diamonds on the soles of her shoes/ well thats on way to lose these walking blues/ diamonds on the soles of your shoes.' now of course its easy to say that being right will get you through the 'walking blues', but also think of how it feels to be in love. being in love makes you happier, the birds chirp, the shines. The feeling of being love can make you 'walking blue' go away, to give you a vibrancy to life that is hard to achieve otherwise. Also note the term 'walking' blues - walking as an interaction medium, this means you have the blues with what you are interactiing with, in this case life.

    The pocket and the cars keys, leading to 'youve taken me for granted/ because i please you/ wearing these diamonds'. The man who poor in love has taken advantage of his relationship with this women, becuase she loves him, will sacrifice for him, and he does not appreciate or reciprocate the feeling.

    The teaspoon and the wave are referances to opposites again, but of volume (in re: to water, teaspoon small, wave=ocean=large). changes clothes, puts on afteshave, to compensate for his ordinary shoes. This works too - he has to cover up and componsate when the two of them go out because he is not in love with her, and needs to put on an act or project the image that he is.

    here's the homerun: "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 "

    They go out dancing, glitzy, fun, extravagent, but then end up completely broken down by 'sleeping in a doorway', but this build up to breakdown has created a new situation in the song "Wearing diamonds on the soles of THEIR shoes". This build up to breakdown journey has left them both in love, the boy has fallen in love with the girl, and they are ultimately happy because they are content to sleep in a doorway, like a common homeless man in new york city.

    He then ties it back to himself 'people say im crazy/ ive got diamonds on the soles of my shoes'. Perhaps this is a personal story of one his relationships, the journey one goes on in the endeavor of love. I believe his repeating 'as if everyone would know what im talking about' is strong evidence, as everyone does know about love to some extent, but who has ever walked with diamonds on the soles of their shoes?

    Those are my thoughts, perhaps this is the only paul simon song i feel comfortable discussion, but it is also one of my favorites because the metaphore is rich and deep, but this one i feel as if i understand.

    JForsythe62on November 19, 2004   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    I'm from durban south africa. Much of the album was recorded in south africa, there are some specifically south african cultural references:

    The sign of the teaspoon is index finger extended pointing down making a circular motion. The sign of the wave is a wave like motion with your arm. These are signs used to summon a minibus taxi. The teaspoon one means citycenter and the wave one means durban (its a coastal city). As the taxi drives past the driver sees the signs and stops if he's going in that direction.

    In context this probably means that he is saying that they are going in different directions in life.

    eishwenaon September 20, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    he was empty as a pocket with nothing to lose

    Junkheadon May 09, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    it is about a rich girl

    Cheesepotionon April 14, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    aye, and she don't try to hide it

    FelixCloudon July 20, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    got diamonds on the soles of her shoes

    MelissaOKon March 23, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    it is about a poor boy

    jedibiatchon May 01, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I think this song is about the expectations that come from dating someone above your station in life. The diamonds on her shoes seem to represent a person who is willingly treating her social standing as if it's unimportant to her -- not only is she hiding her wealth where no one will see it, but she's attempting to defile it by treating it like dirt on her shoes. Of course, they are diamonds -- one of the hardest substances known to man -- so they probably aren't being damaged too badly... as if her wealth, no matter how much she tries to deny and hide it, is still a part of who she is. People say she's crazy -- for dating someone outside her social class. She's more than likely been disowned, I'm thinking.

    The part about her being physically forgotten, and feeling like she's been taken advantage of could be her response to her boyfriend not seeming to appreciate her sacrifice.

    I've thought about the signs of the teaspoon and wave... not certain, but when you make the pantomime of holding a spoon, pinky extended, isn't that a symbol for wealth? And the wave symbol is like a hippie-dancing kind of movement, perhaps? Most hippies having given up material possessions, and all... not certain, though.

    The part about putting on aftershave is fairly straightforward -- he's trying to make himself "fancier" to live up to the wealthier ideals that his girlfriend has known. He's not even putting on cologne - it's aftershave, which tends to be cheaper and more watered-down. And she wants to go out, but they can only afford to sit in a doorway. They could be homeless, or maybe just turned down from entering a club on upper-broadway (told to wait in a line, where they finally fell asleep?).

    Anyway, just my thoughts.

    Sir_Larrikinon June 24, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    The "girl" is poor but doesn't realize it. She FEELS fulfilled and happy. Makes me think of a little kid whose parents have kept her sheltered. All she knows is that everything is secure and and safe, and don't know how hard the parents have to struggle to give her that sense of security. The "boy" in the song is poor, he feels empty, insecure, needing something. It's not really about their actual state of wealth, but about how they FEEL, and how they carry themselves through life based on what they feel like. The interesting thing thing to me is the teaspoon/wave reference. When I think of the shape of a teaspoon, it's concave. It can be filled, and it only takes a little something to fill it. She is easy to please, easy to fill. She can be happpy with almost nothing, and she is open to accepting what is offered. A wave, on the otherhand is a convex shape. Cannot be filled, because it's already full; there is no room for any gifts. He's not open or ready to accept what is being offered; he is too full of something else (sadness, insecurity, negativity, whatever).
    And as time goes by and he continues to hang around her, her optimism and hopefulness starts to rub off on him. Now people think he is as crazy and clueless as she is. On the other hand, she starts to see reality a little more clearly.

    appleannieon August 03, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    The discussion thus far has involved different people - primarily Sir Larrikin, JForsythe and padmewan - trying to impose different interpretations upon this song.

    JForsythe, for example, says that the metaphor of 'diamonds on the souls of her shoes' consistently refers to the feeling of being in love, while Sir Larrikin thinks it's about wealth and dating 'above your station.'

    To have a discussion like this is to ignore the essence of Paul SImon's lyrical genius. The point is, his best lyrics - as with any sublime lyrics - cannot be explained in only one way. The metaphor of 'diamonds on the souls of her shoes' deals simultaneously with: love, beauty and the degradation thereof, the disparity between rich and poor, socio-economic injustice in South Africa, and more.

    It is the complexity of Simon's lyrics - the fact that one can't just say "the metaphore [sic] is rich and deep, but this one i feel as if i understand" - that makes them truly great.

    musical_snobon January 12, 2005   Link

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