Monday, November 24, 2008

The Bountiful Feast: Senegal Fast Food

Amadou & Mariam: Senegal Fast Food


After starting the week with three square meals, I thought we could all use a snack.

“Senegal Fast Food” fits our theme because of its title. The song is mostly in French, with a few lines in Amadou and Mariam’s native language, Bamako. So I have no idea what the song is about. I did find a bad translation, posted by a fan who apparently spoke English as a second or third language, but I really couldn’t make sense of it.

Amadou and Mariam are a blind couple, originally from Mali, who moved to the Ivory Coast to take advantage of that country’s superior recording facilities. Their blindness is more than just a marketing point; they met at an institute in Mali that helps blind people, in part by encouraging musical expression. Their musical style is Malian blues, thought by musicologists to be the African precursor of blues as we think of it in the United States. On this track, the traditional style is melded with musical influences from other cultures by producer Manu Chao, resulting in a fine example of what is called World Beat. World Beat is a strategy used by many traditional artists who seek to introduce their music to a global audience. And in this case, the introduction is most welcome.

I have been posting a lot of world music lately. I’m not planning any more for the rest of this week, but, if anybody thinks it’s too much, let me know in the comments.

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