Toto - Africa
Music video by Toto performing Africa. (C) 1982 Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
Tags: Toto Africa Columbia Pop
Added: 1 year ago
Africa is a hit single by rock band Toto, and is one of the band's most recognizable songs. It was included on their 1982 album Toto IV, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1983 and number three on the UK Singles Chart the same month. The song was written by the band's keyboardist/vocalist David Paich and drummer Jeff Porcaro.
The initial idea for the song came from David Paich. Jeff Porcaro explains the idea behind the song: "... a white boy is trying to write a song on Africa, but since he's never been there, he can only tell what he's seen on TV or remembers in the past."
David Paich said: "At the beginning of the '80s I watched a late night documentary on TV about all the terrible death and suffering of the people in Africa. It both moved and appalled me and the pictures just wouldn't leave my head. I tried to imagine how I'd feel about if I was there and what I'd do."
The music video was directed by Steve Barron. In the video, a researcher in a library (portrayed by band member David Paich) tries to match a scrap of a picture to the book from which it was torn out. As he continues his search, a black female librarian (Jenny Douglas-McRae) working at a desk takes occasional notice of him, while a native in the surrounding jungle begins to close in on the library. When the researcher finds a book entitled Africa, the native throws a spear, toppling stacks of books. Africa falls open to the page from which the scrap was torn, but a lantern lands on it and sets it on fire, after which the librarian's eyeglasses are shown falling to the floor. The scenes are inter-cut with shots of a spinning globe and the band performing atop a stack of hardcover books. On the top of the stack of the books, in which the band performs on, is the book Africa.
This video also features Mike Porcaro on bass, replacing David Hungate who had already left Toto before the video was made.
Africa (4:33). The video for this 1982 song by Los Angeles rock band Toto features singer David Paich in a law library, looking for truth as an African American librarian glares suspiciously at him. He pulls a book titled Africa off the shelf, unleashing some primal force. An African throws a spear, knocking over some books onto a lantern that sets the place on fire, perhaps in retribution for Paich's tearing out a bit of a page from the book. The band plays on a pile of gigantic books.
Say it's 1982, you just bought Toto IV and you've put it on the turntable for the first time. There's "Rosanna," there's "Make Believe," some rockers, some ballads, some hits, some filler - in other words, nothing too unexpected. Finally you come to the end of the album, track number 10. There's this quiet drumbeat. Some bizarrely synthesized percussion. The verse begins:
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
I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say , "Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you"
What is this? Where's Toto? Where are we? Who's the old man? What's waiting there? What the hell is going on?
Suddenly there's a dramatic drum fill, and the Toto that we know and (slightly) love appears in its full splendor:
It's gonna take a lot to take 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
See, you wouldn't have been crazy if you'd concluded up to this point that Toto was only capable of churning out some slick, generic pop-rock and nothing more. But you would have been wrong.
Who knew Toto had it in them? Maybe they didn't. Apparently in one UK survey, the line "I know that I must do what's right/Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti" was voted the worst lyric of all time. I used to think it was "rises like a lepress." Either way, it's problematic.
But who cares about the ridiculous lyrics when you can savor the atmosphere? It's the little touches that impress me most, like the subtle instrumental shifts that make the last go-around of the chorus particularly powerful. Listen to how the guitars enter at 3:16, then climb even higher at 3:27. Or the soaring vocal ad-libbing around 3:32. What really does it to me every time are those little, extra-emphatic piano chords at 3:42. And then - all is quiet again. A man on the savannahs of Africa must conceal his passion, only to reveal it when the moment strikes.
I didn't think such an atmospheric song would have a video that matches the images in my head. Toto, why did I underestimate you so?
Jeff Porcaro said of the song, "... a white boy is trying to write a song on Africa, but since he's never been there, he can only tell what he's seen on TV or remembers in the past." This is hilarious, because what I picture when I hear this song is not really Africa, but some city-dwelling white guy's weird mental images of Africa. I can tell you exactly what this song reminds me of. It reminds of the displays of African wildlife I used to look at as a kid in the old Academy of Arts and Sciences in Golden Gate Park, with their cheap, fake backdrops and stiff tigers and zebras. And Boom! Toto was thinking almost the same thing.
Here we have David Paich in a rather urban-looking library, staring at a black librarian, with lots of masks and flaming torches surrounding him. So they just found some black girl to play the librarian? How much do you want to bet she was just some black girl, not African or anything, but probably just from Baltimore, and they said, "Hey, do you want to be in this video about Africa?"
Paich keeps flipping through books. What is he looking for? He's looking for a book called Africa. But little does he know, the book called Africa is sitting under the feet of Toto! At any rate, when he finally finds the book, a savage warrior throws a spear into the library, and the black librarian's glasses fall shattered to the floor as the building burns down in flames. You see, by trying to search for Africa, the White Man has been destroying Africa! Yes, Toto. Yes.