Thursday, August 7, 2014

Throwback Thursday: U.S.A. (and Other Countries) for Africa in Songs

I guess I had to be here.

That's what it took for me to fully appreciate pop music's rich history of songs dedicated to my current continental home. And sadly, when I was there (the Serengeti in Tanzania, that is), I didn't have "Africa," Toto 1982 single and the band's only No. 1 hit, on my soundtrack. Not only does the magical, mysterious musical mood perfectly capture the feeling of being out in the African wild (especially when the night comes, to quote then title of the 1989 No. 11 single by Joe Cocker, who, to my knowledge, never released a song about the "Dark Continent"), but so does its best lyric: "As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus from the Serengeti."

Sadly, I didn't get a clear view of Mount Kilimanjaro when we drove past it on the way from Arusha to Nairobi, but revisiting the golden Toto oldie was the next best thing to seeing Africa's highest peak un-obscured by haze. Ah, the power of great writing - and music.

"Zimbabwe" Bob Marley

"A Night in Tunisia" Chaka Khan

"Africa" Toto

"Under African Skies" Paul Simon

"Liberian Girl" Michael Jackson

"Gimme Hope Jo'anna" Eddy Grant

"Zimbabwae" Toni Childs

"Storms of Africa" Enya

"Durban Deep" Elton John

"Diamonds from Sierra Leone" Kanye West

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