Bola Johnson – “Buroda Mase”

If I can fill you in on this song while I wait here at the airterminal…

 It’s a dub-style dance tune, where the drummer sounds toward the end
of every measure as if he’s just nodded off to sleep for a quick
sixteenth beat. Bola sings the verses lightly with the bass playing in
front of the trap drums, and a little bit of rhythm guitar and a
little bit of lead guitar.

 On the choruses, Bola has a pretty forceful voice, and you can tell
that he learned from the James Brown school of funk. While the trumpet
plays, you can imagine him vogueing from side to side.

The state of blissful absurdity, ‘Anna Karenina’

‘Then relations arrived, and there began that state of
blissful absurdity from which Levin did not emerge till the day after
his wedding. Levin was in a continual state of awkwardness and
discomfort, but the intensity of his happiness went on all the while
increasing. He felt continually that a great deal was being expected
of him—what, he did not know; and he did everything he was told, and
it all gave him happiness. He had thought his engagement would have
nothing about it like others, that the ordinary conditions of engaged
couples would spoil his special happiness, but it ended in his doing
exactly as other people did, and his happiness being only increased
thereby and becoming more and more special, more and more unlike
anything that had ever happened.…

 ‘What was extraordinary was that everyone not only liked him, but even
people previously unsympathetic, cold, and callous, were enthusiastic
over him, gave way to him in everything, treated his feeling with
tenderness and delicacy, and shared his conviction that he was the
happiest man in the world because his betrothed was beyond
Anna Karenina, Part IV, chapter 16.

 As I was reading this chapter sitting in my folding armchair in the
sunshine outside the tent yesterday morning, the oracular shuffle
feature brought up this Monty Alexander classic, which is on a
collection called “Strange Funky Games and Things,” right after Sam
Mangwana singing “Marie Kembo.” The songs seemed to match like lock to
key the delirious, yet organized nature of the happiness that Tolstoy
describes Levin as being in the throes of as he plans his marriage to

That urban-funky vein runs deeper than I’d thought

At the barbershop yesterday, the satellite-television video channel
aired a pleasing mix of songs while I was waiting for my mop-chop,
including Talking Heads, “BurningDown The House”; Brazilian Girls, “GoodTime”; and Little Jackie, “TheWorld Should Revolve Around Me.” I recognized the first and last
ones, and “Good Time,” which I acquired over the summer, seemed sort
of familiar, but I didn’t know any of the four or five other songs
that the TV played.

 The troubling thing about this unprompted experiment is that the vein
of music that stretches from Talking Heads to Imani Coppola is one of
my favorites: call it multiculti urban dance funk or something like
that. You may blame my New York City childhood for this longstanding
interest. So how is it that more than half the songs played in the
set, all of which I liked, I didn’t even recognize?

 Either there are hundreds of new records in this vein that come out
every year, where I only get the chance to listen to a more or less
randomly selected dozen; or the songs that were played on this channel
were popular somewhere else than in New York City, although they all
(especially the videos) consciously show off their New York
influences; or I’ve been slacking and there are lots of new good
records out there that I would have stumbled upon if I hadn’t been
down here at the Secret City for so long.

Talking Heads:

 Brazilian Girls: the video is there, but “not available in your
country.” Hmm. What country is this? How does Youtube know? When I log
on to google, the page comes up in Ukrainian; does it think I’m in
Ukraine, then?

 Little Jackie:

Fumbling the dozens

Bo Diddley, “I Don’t Like You”

“If you had dynamite for brains, you wouldn’t have enough to blow your nose.”

“You look like a million dollars to me”

“Yeah, what?”

“I ain’t never seen a million dollars. You look like something I ain’t
never seen before.”

Only Bo Diddley can come up with some kind of wack-ass dozens-calling
and make it sound intriguing and even funny. Having to explain it
usually eviscerates all humor, but this tune remains a staple on my
list of funny novelty songs. The annoying incessant opera-singer riff
probably has something to do with that as well. Could this song be a
predecessor of hiphop?