Rock le Casbah!
AS per usual, it was raining on the coast today. Walking around town, it was a real struggle trying to keep from belting out the chorus of Toto's classic: "I BLESS THE RAINS DOWN IN AFRICAAAAA!" . And now I'm kinda wishing I had…
I may be stuck in Abbotsford, B.C. but my mind has already firmly stepped foot in West Africa. my daily internal soundtrack has been wholly Africanized- I find myself humming the South African hymns we used to sing in vmhs choir or trying my hand at rapping some k'naan tracks with my ipod while waiting for a bus…
The next couple of months are going to be my version of travel purgatory
My entire West African adventure was inspired by the idea of a music festival, and there seems to be a musical theme flowing through all the stages of planning this trip.
There is a highly recommended museum right around the corner from the hostel in Ouagadougou(pronounced "Wagadougou). That looks like its going to be one of the highlights of my time spent in urban Burkina Faso. La Musée de la Musique features all sorts of West African instruments, completely hands on and with instructions on how to play each one. If my lugging both a sitar and guitar around Vietnam seemed stupidly obnoxious, wait till I bring a complete conga set home from Burkina! Right now I'm imagining la Musée will be something like the music museum Mrs. Frizzle's class went to in that episode of Magic School Bus. If you know what I'm talking about, then you have an idea of how awesome the reviews of this place have been.
Apparently if you go early enough in the day, there is usually a school group visiting the museum's music room. A few dozen energized school children banging on drums and xylophones while singing and dancing - an amusing spectacle I'm going to try my best to see.
....Anyways, if you have any interest in African music, these are a few of the songs on my trip's playlist thus far. There are some pretty cool tunes that I suggest people check out
Where The Streets Have No Name- U2 Possibly the best song ever written! …Ever! The kind of song that makes your heart sink into your chest and fill every inch of your body with that travelling spirit. "I want to run! I want to hide, I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside!". Youth International people, if any of you are reading this, this song always send me right back to that lahu village. The water fights with those akhan kids, frolicking in those never ending monsoon rains (Jessie!), and that overwhelming spirit of life we felt pretty much every other moment on that trip! GAH!! Just thinking about it now puts a goofy smile on my face….
Rachid Tara, Faudel, Khaled- Abdel Kader One of my favorite pieces of world music long before this trip planning began. A perfect example of modern Algerian music, and since Mali and Algeria share a long desert boarder, not dissimilar from the music played at le festival. Theres actually a video of this song being played in Essakane several years ago floating somewhere on the internet. I haven't found it yet, but I'd love to see a clip of the Tuareg women trance dancing to some Saharan pop.
Pride- Soweto Gospel Choir Another U2 song, from the album In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2.A great song to begin with, the Soweto Gospel choir's remake is brimming with energy. It really epitomizes my vision of Africa (which admittedly is almost purely based on the lion king films)
He Lives In You- Lebo M. A theatrical song worthy of a Disney movie. You get a real since of story telling listing to this. There is a grand crescendo at the end, guaranteed to make your heart rise and flutter with wanderlust. Like all great African gospel, this song almost inspires me to take up religion. It's hard not to feel a great sense of the sublime when you have those upbeat marimba rhythms and a full choir singing outpraises.
K'naan- The Dusty Foot Philosopher Album This entire cd is amazing! one of my favorite artists in general. Socially conscious hip hop from a Somalianbeat-poet. Sobax, In the Beginning, Untill The Lion Learns To Speak, and the title track- The Dusty Foot Philosopher, all stand out as exceptional pieces of music. With lyrics that make the wannabe gangsta rap that graces our top 40s charts looks like they were written by 7 year old white suburban girls.
I was born and raised in a place
where the torn of flame would blaze
where the foreigners are not embraced
where they warn from a jogging pace
where loners lower their gaze
where the corners slower the chase
where they twist and turn in a maze
with the pistol upon your face
(runtaa hadii kale waxaan lahaa aaheey)
so come with me to my lungs
the depth, and be overcome
with passion see how I come
no cash Im free in the slums
The past can we overcome
I am asking can we be the ones
To actually be the ones
To free our people from guns
(hadii kale waxaan lahaa aaheey!)
Youssou N'Dour- a world renown artist hailing from Egypt, like Africa's Rolling Stones. I've heard rumors that he might be playing at this year's festival au desert. Muhatmal, one of the festival's organizers who I've just started emailing back and forth with, hinted Youssouwould be making an appearance, but they don't want word getting out because the venue is to small to handle the huge wave of fans who'd follow him to Timbuktu. So shhhh, tell no one. *wink* His song Miyoko is particularly good, it's a got a cool funky groove to it. His style is much closer to what I'd be hearing at the festival then the other songs I've been listing too (which are almost all done in either eastern African or southern African/ Zimbabwe style) And unless I'm mistaken Miyoko, was also the official song of a continent wide anti-malaria campaign… music with a message, gotta love it!
Paul Simon's Graceland (extended) album. Homeless is just a great song. Who knew a folk star in the 80s could hold so much rhythm and soul in such a short, balding, frame? Play that funky music white boy! I think this might have been the album that brought African music to the forefront worldwide. Popularizing African styles, and at the same time, vocalizing the fight against apartheid to the western masses. The album features a ton of South African stars and mbaqanga musical styles. Mbaqanga, although it originates in South Africa, is a very popular in ghana's hi-life sceane. So take 'Diamonds on the soles of her shoes' add some more techno beats, some free-stylin' verses and you've got an idea of the kind of music I'll be grooving to when I hit the coast's crazy clubbing scene.
>more to come!