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Old 06-03-2018, 06:05 PM
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Quick question about “Africa”...


The near memetic Toto song, of course.

By my hearing, the melody of the first line of the chorus (“It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you,” before the harmony comes in) is repeated in the next two lines. What I wonder is, when you imagine this song or sing along, when, if ever, do you switch over to the harmony?

By the way, with all the attention this song’s been getting from young’uns these days, I tried to imagine what an equivalent for me would be, ie if I were doing this at their age, I’d be doing it with a song released in 19xx, if I were going back an equal amount of time.

It made me feel old.
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Old 06-03-2018, 06:58 PM
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Numbering lines for convenience:

Quote:
1) It's gonna take a lot to take me away from you
2) There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
3) I bless the rains down in Africa
Okay, I'm mentally singing it, since that's what you asked about. My mental version:

Line 1: Maintaining the same (high) pitch all through the line until "from you," when I drop a half-step (I think).
Line 2: Back to the same high pitch, drop a half-step on "could ev," then jump up a third on "er do"
Line 3: Different melodic line altogether, involving a big jump down (a fifth?) then back up (a sixth?) and descending

Disclaimer: I am not a good singer, and especially bad at harmonizing by ear.



It's definitely a song that benefits from vocal harmonizing. There's a quite nice low-key cover by Low here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWPx5N3rCvU


ETA: Why is it "there's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do"? Why not "that's nothing ..."? The more I think about the lyrics as written (I assume they're correct), the worse that line is. In a song full of clunky lines.

Last edited by snoe; 06-03-2018 at 07:00 PM.
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Old 06-03-2018, 07:32 PM
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This is my favorite cover of Africa. It’s an acapella version by a large Slovenian (I think) chorus.

Last edited by USCDiver; 06-03-2018 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 06-03-2018, 07:50 PM
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And here's Betty White singing it...
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Old 06-03-2018, 08:23 PM
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The particular vocal harmony style of the original makes me feel like frequently switching which part I'm on just for fun.
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Old 06-03-2018, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by snoe View Post


ETA: Why is it "there's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do"? Why not "that's nothing ..."? The more I think about the lyrics as written (I assume they're correct), the worse that line is. In a song full of clunky lines.
Grammatically, your Line 2 has an implied "...to accomplish that" at the end.
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Old 06-03-2018, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Leaper View Post
By the way, with all the attention this song’s been getting from young’uns these days, I tried to imagine what an equivalent for me would be, ie if I were doing this at their age, I’d be doing it with a song released in 19xx, if I were going back an equal amount of time.
Just because I found it interesting, I used sixteen as my "young'uns" age (born 2002) with this song released in 1984, eighteen years before that. Eighteen years before my birth was 1955 and, in that year, "Unchained Melody" charted three times in the US by different artists. In 1990, "Unchained Melody" (albeit the 1965 Righteous Brothers cover) had a resurgence of popularity after it was featured in Ghost.

Granted, I was actually 17 in 1990 but if you kind of squint and ignore all the technicalities, I can pretend that there was an old song getting this attention when I was a "young'un" and not feel so old
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Old 06-03-2018, 09:52 PM
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Ah, but there was much more of a "generation gap" in music back in the day. My kids could easily like some of their parents' favorite bands. But not when I was a kid.

My parents really believed the Communists were using "the Rock and Roll" to subvert the youth of America (and my fundamentalist pastor preached that it was demonic... and he was using Country-Rock bands as examples!).

Music really did change a lot in the mid-to-late 60s, so finding a song from the mid-80s popular today wouldn't be hard now. Easier than a song from the mid-50s, when most songs sounded like "easy listening" (until Elvis, but he was mostly late 50s/60s).
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Old 06-03-2018, 10:40 PM
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Weezer has just blessed the rains down in Africa.
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Old 06-04-2018, 12:06 AM
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Interesting question. The melody of the first line is indeed present in the following two but the harmonies become progressively more dominant so that by line three the original melody has almost become the harmony itself. I think I switch to the harmony for the third line and can go either way on the second line.
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Old 06-04-2018, 12:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Pearse View Post
Interesting question. The melody of the first line is indeed present in the following two but the harmonies become progressively more dominant so that by line three the original melody has almost become the harmony itself. I think I switch to the harmony for the third line and can go either way on the second line.
This is what kills me about old timey (before manufactured beats became more common than instruments) music. Look how complicated something like this was to make, but it was barely taken seriously at the time ... it was just "pop" music. But it feels more musically complex than 98% of the new mainstream stuff I hear these days.
I used to think it bizarre and sad that so many teenagers love older music, and then I realized: What's their alternative?
Perhaps I have just become an old fogey.

Last edited by Lizard; 06-04-2018 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 06-04-2018, 12:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Pearse View Post
Interesting question. The melody of the first line is indeed present in the following two but the harmonies become progressively more dominant so that by line three the original melody has almost become the harmony itself. I think I switch to the harmony for the third line and can go either way on the second line.
Yes. I like this song precisely because I can so easily switch between harmony and melody. It's fun.

Another one that I do this with, if I may introduce that into the conversation, is Shout, by Tears for Fears.
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Old 06-04-2018, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by DavidwithanR View Post
Grammatically, your Line 2 has an implied "...to accomplish that" at the end.
Yeah, I get that, and I've always filled in the blanks/known what was meant. It just seems like clumsy writing to me. Change the first word to "that's" or "which's" or something and there's no ambiguity, and your listeners can spend their mental energy on Kilimanjaro and the wild dogs and the rest of it. (Don't tell me that "which's" doesn't "sound natural" when we're talking about this song with its "Serengeti" bullshit.)

(PS: Clumsy lyric writing is not unusual in pop music, even great pop music! I led a high school class through Michael Jackson's "Beat It" today, and the consensus seemed to be that without the music video the song doesn't tell a coherent story or even address a coherent theme -- though it still kicks butt. As does "Africa.")


Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Pearse View Post
Interesting question. The melody of the first line is indeed present in the following two but the harmonies become progressively more dominant so that by line three the original melody has almost become the harmony itself. I think I switch to the harmony for the third line and can go either way on the second line.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny Daze View Post
Yes. I like this song precisely because I can so easily switch between harmony and melody. It's fun.

Thank you both for articulating why I found this question/topic immediately fascinating!
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Old 06-04-2018, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snoe View Post
ETA: Why is it "there's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do"? Why not "that's nothing ..."? The more I think about the lyrics as written (I assume they're correct), the worse that line is. In a song full of clunky lines.
Maybe it's just me and DavidwithanR ... but to my ear, "there's nothing ..." sounds much more natural and fitting than the alternatives.
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Old 06-04-2018, 05:03 PM
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Considering that I heard that second line as "There's nothing that a hundred men on Mars could ever do" for years, y'all are doing better than me.
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Old 06-04-2018, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by snoe View Post
3) I bless the rains down in Africa
Huh. I've always heard and sang it as "I miss the rains down in Africa."
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Old 06-04-2018, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizard View Post
This is what kills me about old timey (before manufactured beats became more common than instruments) music. Look how complicated something like this was to make, but it was barely taken seriously at the time ... it was just "pop" music. But it feels more musically complex than 98% of the new mainstream stuff I hear these days.
I used to think it bizarre and sad that so many teenagers love older music, and then I realized: What's their alternative?
Certainly not alternative music either.
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Old 06-04-2018, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Nars Glinley View Post
Huh. I've always heard and sang it as "I miss the rains down in Africa."
That's a Frequently Misheard Lyric.

And as for Africa covers, there really is a subreddit for everything:
https://www.reddit.com/r/TotoAfricaCovers/
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Old 06-04-2018, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Nars Glinley View Post
Huh. I've always heard and sang it as "I miss the rains down in Africa."
That actually makes more sense than the real lyric. I mean, "I bless the rains ..."? How and why does one "bless" rainfall?
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Old 06-05-2018, 01:46 AM
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I guess if you can curse the rain you could also bless it. Probably not at the same time though.
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Old 06-05-2018, 02:36 AM
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The rain sneezed. He said "Bless you!"

When I was quite young, there was an election, and afterwards a new government was sworn in. I knew nothing about politics, but had recently heard a few interesting words which I knew were called swearing. When I noticed the comment on the news about the swearing-in of the government, I imagined some rough-looking official saying something to these new politicians along the lines of "Well, shit. You are fucking well in."
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Old 06-05-2018, 07:35 AM
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How and why does one "bless" rainfall?
In the sense of "Well, bless your heart!"

I never truly got the story in this song - a guy's going to the airport to pick up his beloved girlfriend, and they never more will part yada yada, typical song stuff. But he's also having a hallucination about being on a safari in east Africa, and the hallucination is gradually taking over his conscious being? Is the girlfriend going to take him straight to the sanitarium, I hope?

Captivating music, of course.
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Old 06-06-2018, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Sunny Daze View Post
Yes. I like this song precisely because I can so easily switch between harmony and melody. It's fun.

Another one that I do this with, if I may introduce that into the conversation, is Shout, by Tears for Fears.
IMO, the best songs are ones in which I can sing different parts at any time. Some of my favorites I want to hear over and over because I can't decide which I like more: "Haven't We Been Here Before" by Styx is one.
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Old 06-06-2018, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaper View Post
The near memetic Toto song, of course.

By my hearing, the melody of the first line of the chorus (“It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you,” before the harmony comes in) is repeated in the next two lines. What I wonder is, when you imagine this song or sing along, when, if ever, do you switch over to the harmony?

By the way, with all the attention this song’s been getting from young’uns these days, I tried to imagine what an equivalent for me would be, ie if I were doing this at their age, I’d be doing it with a song released in 19xx, if I were going back an equal amount of time.

It made me feel old.
I'm a big time singalong person. I sing the harmony part of almost all songs when there is one. Sometimes if first verse of a song doesn't have a harmony, and I'll sing the harmony as it exists in the second verse, for fun.

In the case of this particular chorus, I probably would not sing a harmony into the first line. It is deliberately left out in all 3 choruses. It's a nice build-up the way it is. I get enough harmony out of the rest of the chorus for my "harmony fix."

ETA: I just noticed the Low and Weezer version harmonizes the first line. Seems like a common cover thing.

Last edited by Ashtura; 06-06-2018 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 06-06-2018, 02:55 PM
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I can barely listen to this song because of the stress on the wrong syllable in Serengeti.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:46 PM
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By the way, bumping this because I just came upon the Weezer video for Africa, even though it's been out for awhile. It's Weezer's recording, but the musicians in the video are all stand-ins. Rivers Cuomo is being imitated by Linwood's favorite son, Weird Al Yankovic.

https://youtu.be/mk5Dwg5zm2U
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Old 09-14-2019, 09:53 AM
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Africa on a harp.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyeuOmieaMM
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