The song was the first recorded by Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo for Simon's album Graceland. The song launched the international career of the South African group and introduced Zulu isicathimiya music to new western audiences. Shabalala provided the music, from the melody of a traditional Zulu wedding tune, and new Zulu words. Simon provided the English lyrics. The text has been taken as protest music, though Shabalala has said that the phrase "we are homeless" is similar to the words a Zulu uses when proposing to his bride.
^Walter Bernhart, Werner Wolf, David L. Mosley Word and Music Studies: Essays on the Song Cycle 2001 "The fact that the song "Homeless" was co-written with Ladysmith Black Mambazo lead singer Joseph Shabalala reinforces the collaborative effort. The album was recorded in South Africa, the U.S., and England. ...Undoubtedly, the degree of African influence on the music of Graceland varies greatly: while "Homeless" is a fully integrated collaboration between Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the last two tracks on the album, "That Was Your ..."
^Mary Fitzpatrick South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland 2004 p.58 "Ladysmith's Zulu isicathimiya music, enjoying renewed popularity ever since the group guested on the Graceland song 'Homeless', is a prime example of the way traditional South African music used Western influences to produce unique musical styles.
^Veit Erlmann Nightsong: Performance, Power, and Practice in South Africa 1996 p. 94 "The role of Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the making of the album consists, in a nutshell, of the coauthoring by Paul Simon and Joseph Shabalala of "Homeless" and of the introduction in "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes""
^Jonathan C. Friedman The Routledge History of Social Protest in Popular Music 2013 p. 315 "Although Ladysmith Black Mambazo is not often associated with protest music, some of their songs also point out the inhumanity of apartheid, especially with regard to causing problems related to crime and poverty. “Homeless” is.."
^The World & I 1987 Volume 2, Issue 10 - p.215 "But at the same time, Shabalala has explained that the phrase "we are homeless" is very similar to the words a Zulu uses when proposing to ..."
^Linda Flower The Construction of Negotiated Meaning 1994 "In the Public Eye One inescapable feature of "Homeless" is that its meaning(s) seems literally constructed out of multiple voices ... However, even that trademark style of Shabalala and the Ladysmith Black Mambazo is itself a hybrid — a Zulu ..."