Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Best VersionS of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" from a group or country I have a tenuous connection with.

Back in the early 1990s when I lived in Milwaukee, I worked at a sub shop next to a record store. Remember "record stores?" They sold tapes and records and even new things called "CDs" then and people would go to them and physically pick up their music and then go put the tape into the boom box at the sub shop they worked at and rock out.

One day, when I stopped by the record shop on my way to work to browse through the remainder bin -- I worked at a sub shop, remember. I couldn't afford to buy music from anywhere but the remainder bin, so my music tastes have always focused around those things that were too obscure, too lame, or too old to still be on the shelves-- there was a small crowd around a guy by the register. I didn't know who the guy at the register was, and the crowd was very small -- 3 people. But they were 3 very excited people. So I went over and asked "What's going on?" to the cash register guy.

"This is Johnny Clegg," he said.

"Who?" I asked.

To which Johnny Clegg held up his cassingle -- the worst idea in the history of music-- of his song "Cruel Crazy Beautiful World." Here's that song:

I talked with him a bit and realized that he was the "Johnny Clegg" on the cassingle, and that he sang with his band "Savuka," and was from South Africa. Then I got him to sign a birthday card for a friend of mine, because that's the kind of guy he was and the kind of guy I am -- I'll get anybody who might remotely be considered a celebrity somewhere to sign anything, and apparently he was the kind of guy who will wish a happy birthday to a random American -- and I bought his cassingle, because it was cheap. Bu the song was pretty good, as you've seen.

Then I never heard about him again or thought much about it in the intervening 18 years until my day of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" when I came across not one but two versions of the song by Soweto singers. And Soweto, as you know, is in South Africa. Which is where Johnny Clegg was from.

So it's like I know these people. Here you are: TWO of The Best VersionS of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" from a group or country I have a tenuous connection with.

By a choir:

And an instrumental version:

Want to hear The Best Indie Rock Version of the Song? What about The Best Version From A TV Show?

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Jozidreamer said...

This is so great. I had a similar experience with Johnny Clegg. I found one of his CDs in the library while I was searching for 'real African music' like 'the Lion Sleeps Tonight'. I fell in love with his music and started searching out everything I could find about him. I started a yahoogroup called Scatterlings which is for fans of JC and his various bands. He is still performing and he is still recording. The son he sings about in Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World is grown up now.

Thanks for sharing.

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The Trouble With Roy said...

I'll check out the group. I didn't know "Cruel, Crazy" was actually about a person -- although it's a good song to sing to/with your kids if you have them. Thanks for reading!