Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Friday, May 06, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Different

The lyrics to this song, in addition to being very hard hitting lyrics, reminds me of my earlier post about Bob Dylan and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Why should an influential white songwriter receive any more attention than an arguably more influential black songwriter?

I suppose if you think songwriting is about telling a story in a span of minutes, there is a certain craft involved. And actually I'm hard-pressed to think of a song that tells a story more succinctly and in a more effective manner than Tupac's "Brenda's Got a Baby."

I've been expanding my musical horizons lately. I found the NIN album a little lacking, and the new Garbage album wasn't anything new. In fact, Shirley Manson is making a wonderful career out of complaining how un-sexy she is, even though she sells her sexuality very well in her music and her music videos.

And lyrics like "The boys want to fight, but the girls just want to dance all night" make me want to curl up in a corner and cry. Then again, there are decent songs on the album.

In any case, I've been listening to an African artist named Salif Keita. It's okay that I'm don't understand any of his lyrics, because his music just SOUNDS so good.

He hasn't done a whole lot of stuff your average American listener would recognize, obviously, but he did provide one of his songs for the soundtrack to the movie "Ali". The song plays at the end of the movie, when Ali is in the process of knocking George Foreman out in the eighth round of "The Rumble in the Jungle."

Curiously, I believe the song is something of a dirge for someone who has passed away, which makes it slightly inappropriate for the context of the movie, but it at least sounds good and climactic for an American audience.

I'm a bit surprised I hadn't heard of him before, since so many of his songs would (and probably have been) translated well into techno.

I had a similar thing for Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan this past fall, and actually, Salif Keita is probably a little more accessible.

Since I started listening to Salif Keita, I've also checked out a few other African artists, but none of them really hit me like his music does. The language barrier thing is probably a problem, but hey, I deal.

I have to say, I find most of this stuff a lot more involving and, for lack of a better word, more musical than most contemporary American music. Even bands and individuals who should be more reliable (Reznor, Shirley Manson) just haven't sounded quite right lately.

If anyone else is looking for other stuff to listen to, besides your Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, Weezer or whatever else is out right now, I urge you to check out . There's really something for everyone, which is especially nice up here in Hanover because we have all of two radio stations.

Oh and an addendum to an earlier post - when I said that old Top Ten lists tended to be a lot more political than today's, I also meant to say that old Top Ten lists tended to be a lot more intelligent.

For instance, Jan 13, 1988 had the Top Ten list "Top Ten Rejected Theme For the Ice Capades".

Coming in at number 8 is "Eldrege Cleaver's Soul on Ice on Ice."

Now I don't know if that was an oversight on their part back in 1988, and they just went a little too academic, or if Cleaver was getting out of jail or something, because next to nobody will get that reference today (Cleaver was a Black Panther who was, I believe, jailed for rape, and wrote Soul on Ice sometime in the late 60's (?) as an expression of his anger and an explanation of his actions against women).

Heck, if I hadn't taken an African American Studies class here, there's no way I would have gotten that reference.

Also, that's kind of a disturbing thing to put on a top ten list. It's probably better that no one got it.


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