July 02, 2005

Blessing the rains down in Africa?

A short time ago Ted had a post about song lyrics that grate on his nerves, then asked readers for examples of lyrics that grate on our nerves. I couldn't think of any at the time, but now I've got one! I actually like this song. ( I liked it more when I didn't know what the @#$% most of the words were.) Without further ado I present the lyric to Toto's Africa:

I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She's coming in, 12:30 flight
The moonlit wings reflect the stars,
That guide me towards salvation

Okay. What are the drums that are echoing? Drums in the jungles of Africa? Drums of the band as they rehearsed or recorded or played live? He doesn't say; they're just "the drums".

But, clearly, the singer and his gal are not together at the moment so what in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks does he know what she is hearing? Maybe he just presumes that because she's on a 12:30 flight she's hearing muted conversations.

"The moonlit wings reflect the stars"? I'm pretty sure the wings would have to be full-fledged mirrors to reflect stars. And, even if they were, they'd be reflected UP, and our narrator is presumably on the ground below the incoming plane.

I guess he's on his way to the airport...

I stopped an old man on the way
Hoping to find some long forgotten words or ancient melodies

Huh? Does he mean "words of wisdom"? "Advice"? Or just some long forgotten words like "betimes", "milkbox" or "that baseball player's winter job"...?
"...or ancient melodies"? What is this, a love song or an archeological dig? The old man sees that the singer is becoming distracted:
He turned to me as if to say,
"Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you"

Aah, the plane has landed and the gal is waiting for him. He snaps to and ironically insists:

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had, oooh

First of all, third-person "she" suddenly becomes second-person "you". Tsk tsk, very clumbsy.
Secondly, why is he blessing the rains down in Africa? What the huh? Is she returning from Africa because of a monsoon? But, it sounds more like they're meeting up IN Africa for some quality time together to "do the things we never" did. ("...had" is just wrong. I cannot abide grammer that bad in a song lyric. **shudder**)

Onto the second verse:

The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company

While the "wild dogs" crying out make it seem more like the American plains than the African plains, this is actually a pretty good line. "Solitary company" is a euphemism for mating, and the narrator uses it as a reflection of his own state. But then we have this:
I know that I must do what's right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti

Um, Kilimanjaro is a mountain. Olympus is a mountain. Most rediculous. Simile. Ever. But that's not the half of it. This is Olympus; elevation 7,965 ft:


And this is Kilimanjaro; elevation 19,340 ft:


Kilimanjaro is well over twice the size of Olympus. To say that "Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus" is a slight!

I seek to cure what's deep inside,
Frightened of this thing that I've become

Now, what in the world does THAT mean? What has he become? Perhaps he and his gal were estranged because of his wild oats sewin' exploits and now he has decided that he needs to change and he's meeting up with her in rainy Africa for some make-up sex.

Perhaps it's the lack of rain in Africa that's a metaphor for the narrator. His world is a desert and his love is like rain...?

Then again, maybe the "you" in the chorus is Africa, not the woman. In that case the singer is lamenting giving up his safari lifestyle for the love of his gal. And while "a hundred men or more" couldn't drag him away from Africa, love can. But, then why is she flying in on a 12:30 flight to join him in Africa? Maybe they're meeting there only to fly off to somewhere else. I dunno. I just don't get it.

[instrumental passage]

Hurry boy, she's waiting there for you.

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa,
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa,
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had, oooh

Next up, Yes' Close To The Edge. Just kidding.

P.S. Is anybody seeing the Olympus photo?

P.P.S. Photo is working now. Duh.

Posted by Tuning Spork at July 2, 2005 04:34 PM | TrackBack

I'm not seeing the Mt. Olympus photo, but I don't mind that so much because, after reading your post, I now can't get my own personal "hate those lyrics" song out of my head.

It's a Rush song, in which they proclaim "I will choose free will." It sends me into a frenzy every time I hear it, the upside of which is that my family rushes to turn the radio off to avert my inevitable furied rant.

The other upside is that my kids learned at an early age that free will isn't something one choses but something that is inherent.

Thank you for the post. I feel so much better :-)

Posted by: Debbye at July 3, 2005 02:34 AM
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