#61, "Africa," TOTO (1982)

I know. I KNOW! I've been shifting it up the countdown to avoid posting about it. I can't take it off the list either. I am stuck but can't keep allowing this thing to fail upwards so I'm ending it on a Monday morning. Bring it on. 


Like everyone else in America with internet access, I'm sick to death of this song because kids can't be trusted with any part of culture without spoiling it. The memification of this song was cute at first but uuuuuuuugh did it die a painful death. 


My love of this song dates back to the NINETEEN EIGHTIES back when it was a mere curiosity and not a colossal joke. It goes down as one of a handful of tunes released post-1972 that my mother became obsessed with. Really, a handful. Also sharing this very elite distinction is "More Than Words" by Extreme and "Missing" by Everything but the Girl. Brief side note: She purchased all three albums. I warned her against Extreme, telling her in no uncertain terms that she would absolutely hate the rest of it, but she had to find out for herself. Mom did enjoy the rest of the Everything but the Girl album. 


Mom could listen to the same song over and over and over again, so I know where I picked this habit up. She was worse than me, though. And would drive everyone else in my household completely insane. I believe "Africa" was the first of these songs-on-repeat in my parents' home, though it may have been "Bolero." It was certainly the most memorable instance. I loved the song too, but it seemed irrelevant in the face of mom's obsession. 


After I became a grown-up, it became easy to foster independent love of "Africa" and it was one of those first iTunes I downloaded as soon as it was possible. I experienced a personal renaissance of "Africa" enjoyment just ahead of the internet. I recall during a trip to New York in 2014 or so, I drove Pete absolutely nuts because the toilet in our hotel room was apparently a TOTO brand toilet and said so on the bowl. Every time I'd use the restroom, I'd break into the chorus of "Africa." On a mini-tour with Catscan! in 2015, we sang along to the track while driving on the Pennsylvania turnpike. It was intended as a Facebook Live thing, but Zucc's all-too intelligent copyright protections prevented it from being posted and that four-part harmony that sounded almost competent to my ear is lost to the ages. Then, this adorable thing was unleashed to the internet and I began to feel like we were a small but mighty cult and I welcomed my celebrity friends into the fold, full stop. All was well.

Dozens of music-video nights later, shortly after Trump was elected amid the manic protest marches, I saw a public invite to sing "Africa" at the White House. To me, this seemed like an appropriately surreal pile-on that should effectively be a standard Fuck-You to the president which featured one of my favorite songs of all time. After I'd gotten myself all excited about the whole thing, it grew bigger than I think the inexperienced organizers were equipped to handle and they got a permit and decided to make a donation to some worthy but self-consciously nonpartisan cause. We went anyway and were easily the oldest people there. The actual performance did not go well as you can imagine, but that wasn't the worst part. On the way back to the Metro, Pete and I overheard some chick on her phone saying "yeah, we were singing 'Africa' at the White House. No, it wasn't a *protest* or anything, it was just for fun." It was then that I realized that this was not the silly Fuck-You to the President I'd initially thought it was, but rather a passive fuck-you at the protests. I was sad. 


Then, the Weezer thing happened and I am out of reasons and inclinations to defend this song. I only gained the strength to finally watch it a few months ago, and I admit it's very, very cute. Weird Al is an unqualified national treasure and I guess I'm glad this happened, but the HORSE WAS ALREADY DEAD AND FAIRLY WELL-BEATEN BY THIS POINT. And it was *my* song too. 


Sometimes I think music should be hidden from most people because they can't be trusted not to abuse it. "Africa" is a prime example. 


So anyway yeah. That's over with.