s skippy the bush kangaroo: skippy's wednesday nite music club

skippy the bush kangaroo

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

skippy's wednesday nite music club

here's the first recorded version of what would eventually become a song we're all familiar with...

mbube - solomon linda & the evening song birds

solomon linda wrote this song, whose title is zulu for "lion." pete seeger eventually re-recorded it, mishearing the chorus as "wimoweh." here's the carnegie hall reunion of seeger's group, the weavers, singing their version (w/some fan comments beforehand; song starts @ about 1:30):

wimoweh - the weavers

wikipedia tells us that songwriters george david weiss, luigi creatore, and hugo peretti eventually added some words, describing the legend upon which the song was based: the leader of the zulu, shaka, known as "the lion," did not die when the europeans took over their land; instead, he simply went to sleep, and someday he will wake up and led his people again.

the tokens recorded this new version, the one that we are all familiar with:

the lion sleeps tonight - the tokens

addendum: after posting this over @ the seminal on fdl, commentor watt4bob adds the coda to the story:

there is a wonderful pbs documentary about solomon linda and his family’s efforts to recoup some portion of the millions made off the song in the usa. (solomon died penniless)

i also found a story about a settlement that may have helped put a happy ending on what was a sort of sad history;

… lawyers for the linda family had argued that according to copyright law in the british commonwealth at the time, the rights to the song were to revert back to the composer’s heirs 25 years after his death.

the lawsuit arose in 2003, after the song was used in walt disney’s international hit the lion king, released in 1994. the film was adapted into a massively successful broadway musical in 1997.

the lion sleeps tonight reportedly earned more than $15 million us worldwide for disney.
in the lawsuit, linda’s family members had claimed that they were due millions of dollars in royalties from disney’s use of the song.

in july 2004, the family won a court order to attach more than 240 disney trademarks registered in south africa — including images of mickey mouse and donald duck — to their $1.6-million us lawsuit, in order to establish local jurisdiction for their case.

linda’s three surviving daughters and 10 grandchildren live in poverty in johannesburg’s soweto township. their lawyers say they have only ever received a one-time payment of $15,000 us for the song. …
so the lion eventually eats the mouse!

and, seegar fans will be thankful to know that the folk god admitted the mistake, and tried to make amends:

the song continues to inspire covers by artists such as brian eno and robert john, who releases a number-three hit version in 1972. every radio play results in a performance royalty: weiss receives all composer royalties, while pete seeger and the weavers receive the publisher royalties, even though seeger openly acknowledges linda as the song’s true author. seeger later sends linda a check for $1,000 and instructs his publisher send all future payments to linda’s family—but the company does not.
tho there are many covers, including brian eno's, and our personal guilty pleasure, the mavericks', perhaps most of us know robert john's version the best:

double addendum: other versions of note: the nylons (a capella), the rivets (german singing group), chet atkins on guitar, ladysmith black mambazo (who go back to the original linda roots, and also sing a capella along w/the mint juleps).

finally, don't miss saskia konz, on bagpipes, serenading actual monkeys in an actual jungle.
posted by skippy at 11:57 PM |


Wow! What a treat to see the WEavers & Pete Seeger having such a genuine good glorious time.

I heart Pete.
commented by Blogger Fran, 8:14 PM PDT  
I spent a day recently at NE Conservatory learning South African choral songs. Those harmonies are really something and there are always movements that go along with them. Great stuff, helps clear out your heart and soul.
commented by Blogger gmoke, 9:12 PM PDT  
Eno's version:


from a Die Hard Eno Fan
commented by Blogger Freewayblogger, 11:01 PM PDT  
Saw The Tokens (the real, original ones...the same ones in that YouTube video) at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ in the early nineties on a bill with Frankie Vallee (without any of the other Seasons). Yes, they did The Lion Sleeps, or whatever it's name is.
commented by Blogger DBK, 6:33 AM PDT  
Learn somethin' new everyday... mbube, eh?
commented by Blogger Connecticut Man1, 9:21 AM PDT  
The Nylons - one of the great little-known groups.
Nice Blog

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