Stop the clock — this song is 30 years old? Like, this song is five years away from being able to BE PRESIDENT? Perhaps it feels not-so-old because it remains inescapable. “80s, 90s, and now” radio stations, live-band karaoke, my own iPhone … it’s everywhere. In fact, the wonderfully odd variety show I attend from time to time does their own version. I was once there in late February and requested it, at which point the lead singer heckled me: “You’re a white girl in here trying to request ‘Africa’ during Black History Month?” How’s that? Was I somehow guilty of reverse-reverse-reverse racism?
In addition to just being amazing in every way, “Africa” is known for its nebulous lyrics. They are often misheard (“I bet Lorraine’s down in Africa…”) and even when understood, they are pretty indecipherable:
I know that I must do what’s right
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
Is that entire italicized phrase to be taken the same as “sure as shooting,” I suppose? Also, for the first, say, 28 years this song existed, I thought they were saying Kilimanjaro rises like “a leopress.” (A female leopard? Ehh?)
Best part? 3:47 – 3:50. The building introduction is good. The harmonies in the chorus are great. But the best part? When lead vocalist David Paich participates in a battle royale WITH HIMSELF.
- First, at 3:33, he offers a callback — “I [still] bless the rains.”
- At 3:37, he repeats it — “[No, seriously] I [really, really, really] bless the rains.”
- He pauses.
- And finally, at the aforementioned spot, he has the final one-uppance, jumping about three octaves to exclaim … something. “Ahhhhhhhhhh, gonna take some time (?),” is my guess.
Fun fact: Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles — another singer known for his higher register — does backing vocals. Also: this is the second-best video to take place in a library. The best, of course, is this: