November 18, 2018, 20:01

Hurry, Boy, It’s Waiting There for You: Weezer Covers “Africa” |

Hurry, Boy, It’s Waiting There for You: Weezer Covers “Africa” |

On Tuesday, the indie-rock group Weezer released a cover of Toto’s “Africa,” following nearly six months of devoted needling from a Twitter account dedicated expressly to the cause. I like to think that in lava-lit basements across America, every rock fan who once maniacally bellowed “Freebird!” at a concert now feels some vague sense of victory: occasionally, we must insist and insist upon ourselves to make our barbarian dreams come true.

Toto formed in Los Angeles, in 1976. The band has released thirteen studio albums and taken only one brief hiatus, from 2008 to 2010; “Africa” is its most enduring hit. Prior to the group’s formation, most of its members were omnipresent studio musicians, having played on records by Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Seals and Crofts, and others. Efficient and practiced, Toto always felt licensed, somehow—a band about which you might say, “Man, those guys are professional.” Most of their songs are built around toothsome, jolly melodies, and are slickly and adroitly performed. Look, I’m not too cynical to do a very earnest head-bob to the opening Yamaha line in “Africa,” or to play some air drums during the fill in the pre-chorus. If you tickle us, do we not laugh?

Lyrically, “Africa” is fairly inscrutable—there’s something about Kilimanjaro rising like Olympus, and wild dogs growing restless, longing for some “solitary company”—but there are hints of a sweet little love story, too. The song’s protagonist appears to be on his way to collect his long-distance paramour: “She’s coming in, 12:30 flight,” David Paich, the band’s vocalist and keyboardist, sings. Along the way, he meets a man who goads him toward love. There’s no time left for dallying or circumspection: “Hurry, boy, it’s waiting there for you!” If you set aside the somewhat perplexing geographic cues, “Africa” is—I think—about submitting to desire, or at least admitting to its hold on you. I’ve always found the chorus’s expression of boundless devotion—“It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you / There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do”—to be sort of romantic, in the fantastical way that grips us late at night, when we are feeling unmoored and lonesome. I’m merely saying that it can bring a hot tear to the eye, that kind of sentiment. Love will not tear us apart. (As my colleague Jia Tolentino recently noted, I am not alone.)

Weezer, another Los Angeles band, formed in 1992, has long traded in a certain kind of dissatisfied yearning. The group’s frontman, Rivers Cuomo, tends to work in one of two modes: dark and broken, or deeply playful. Somehow, “Africa” itself is both of these things, which might be why the band’s cover—which faithfully retains the shape of the original but is a little muddier, and a little harder—feels so instinctive and satisfying. A lyric from the second verse (“I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this thing that I’ve become”) feels like something Cuomo himself could have written for “Pinkerton,” the band’s troubled second album.

Covers can be a funny business, but purposefully recontextualizing a song is almost always interesting—either new things come to light, or familiar themes get deeper. In Weezer’s hands, I think “Africa” sounds perfectly triumphant —a man bursting through his own hangups and finding satisfaction. All of which is to say, in this season of strange devastations, a band has capably fulfilled a fan’s oddball request, and now we all get to nod our heads for four minutes. Bless the rains!

Sourse: newyorker.com

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