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Toto – Africa Lyrics 6 years ago
Here's something from the website...and I think the writer has something here.....

I hear the drums echoing tonight,
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation.

A phone call on the day before her flight. She talks about flight numbers, her last day at work before taking leave, her family, and so on. It brings back memories of his old, mundane life which already seems so long ago. For him, even this conversation fades into the background compared to the sense of mystery and excitement that he feels in Africa. Are the drums that he mentions real? It doesn't matter–sometimes the newcomer is more aware of the authenticity of the culture around him or her than even the locals are, and the drums here symbolise Africa's tribal heritage (listen out for the bongos in the song's intro).

She's coming in, twelve-thirty flight,
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation.

His heart is torn between her and Africa. Even as he watches her plane land, the newly familiar constellations of the southern sky make him think about the changes he has undergone in these few short months. This process, which he calls "salvation", has begun but not yet finished.

I stopped an old man along the way,
Hoping to find some long forgotten words or ancient melodies.

Borrowing from the "tribal Africa" theme introduced in the first line of the song, here we encounter the image of the wise elder. Did the singer really come across this enigmatic figure on the way to an arrival-hall reunion with his girlfriend? In a sense, yes, but the occasion was months ago and the "old man" was Africa itself.

Although he might not have admitted it even to himself, the singer came to Africa with the romantic notion of learning something from the continent, some ancient secret that had already been "long forgotten" in his own materialistic modern society. (This is, of course, precisely the search for authenticity and spiritual rejuvination which fuels the new-age movement. But let us hope that the singer has not been side-tracked by Ashanti dolls and visits to Zulu shamens).

He turned to me as if to say,
Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you.

Africa didn't serve up "enlightenment" on a silver platter. But experiencing a different culture made him rethink his own values, and overcoming the challenges of a new environment meant changing himself. Africa didn't offer him wise teachings from the past, instead there was only a long process of self-reflection and change awaiting him if he had the courage to pursue it.

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you,
It's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.

He still loves her. These months apart have reconfirmed or perhaps even strengthened that. Nothing could force him to leave her. But the thought on his mind is, what if he has to choose between her and Africa? Without exerting any kind of force, just by its mere existence, Africa might do what a hundred men or more could never do.

I bless the rains down in Africa.
It's gonna take some time to do the things we never had. (sic)

The singer invokes the image of rain, a classic symbol of rebirth and cleansing. But he follows immediately with a request for more time–remember that his "salvation" is not yet complete. I think "the things we never had" in the second line refers to the new experiences that he never even imagined before coming to Africa. Importantly, the pronoun is "we", because the singer doesn't want to choose between her and Africa: he hopes she will stay with him there. For how long? He doesn't give a specific length of time, but nor does he say "forever". All he knows is that now is too early to return.

In the second verse, naturalistic imagery replaces cultural references as the singer realises that his "rebirth" cannot occur within the parameters of any one culture:

The wild dogs cry out in the night,
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company.

The singer sympathises with the conflicting emotions that he imagines in the wild dogs' howls. He needs more time alone with his thoughts, and can't stand the idea of returning to the hustle and bustle of his home country. And yet he doesn't want to be a hermit–he misses her.

I know that I must do what's right,
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.

Of course he should do what's right, but he isn't sure exactly what that is! The moralistic tone of the first line makes one think of his duty to his girlfriend, yet the image that comes to his mind is of the majestic Kilimanjaro. Is it right for his instinctive attraction to this land to overshadow the obligations that society places on him?

I seek to cure what's deep inside,
Frightened of this thing that I've become.

Here is the final irony. Living in his highly developed society, he feels that deep inside he has become some kind of monster, and only by exploring outside the bounds of culture can he "recivilise" himself.

The chorus repeats, but later there is a single line:

Hurry boy, she's waiting there for you.

He is on the verge of meeting her at the airport. She is waiting for him, but so is Africa. If he chooses Africa instead of her, he will miss out on the experiences that they could have had in each other's company. So of course his hope is that she will agree to stay with him in Africa so that they can grow and change together.

This is my understanding of the song. I don't claim that it is the correct one, or the only one. And I must confess that I don't really know much about Africa, although coincidentally I was born there–my parents lived in South Africa for five years. I must confess that I don't know much about their experiences there either, because I never felt much interest until I too came to live in a foreign country. I wonder what my parents think this song is about.


Tracy Chapman – Fast Car Lyrics 6 years ago
Tracy is a MASTER...few words, repeated initial "refrains"....powerful evocative images, a classic novel and timeless "moral" packed into this blues/traditional ballad of seven verses alternating with "chorus". Glitzy material possessions never could substitute for true character and those who rely on them will only drag down those who know better.

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