This is a very special episode of the story behind believe it or not two years ago I press publish on the first three episodes of this podcast the story behind the theremin the story behind dry ice and the story behind sugar skulls this podcast was supposed to be a side project for me it was supposed to just take.
I could continue my hobby of podcasting while holding a full-time job and when I was pregnant with my son that’s what it was supposed to be but in the two years since.
The show began it took on more it became one of my favorite distractions it allowed me to geek out over things I never had a reason to learn otherwise and it kept my brain from going to complete mush with pregnancy brain and postpartum brain plus it led me to a career in podcasting and finally it became the basis for the story behind book now after last year with the one year and 100th episode special of the story behind the musical.
Which was sung I knew it would take.
A lot to top that for this year’s episode in fact I’m your host Stanley.
Is the story behind every the van Toto started out with some friends in high school in Southern California in the mid 70s they played together.
And separately a session musicians for acts like Boz Scaggs and Steely Dan when they start playing together Boz Scaggs label Columbia heard them and offered them a contract without even an audition the named toto came.
Jeff Vacarro who wrote the word toto on their demo tapes.
In the studio to distinguish their tapes from.
The other bands Jeff had recently watched The Wizard of Oz when he randomly chose that as the words right the band didn’t have a name at the time but when they found out that the Latin translation of toto meant all-encompassing they found the meeting to be a good representation of their.
Music but they weren’t always adored by critics in fact in a time when Punk started to become the absolute coolest thing you could listen to Toto soft rock was considered vapid and a little too corporate regardless of the fact that members of.
Toto were all accomplished musicians and songwriters the press criticized them as just session musicians and faceless since they didn’t necessarily have a glamorous lead singer to parade in front of everyone by the way just 18 hours before recording this episode Rolling Stone released an article about Toto’s Africa which still refer to them as quote a.
Leftover 1970s Posse of la session pros come on Rolling Stone leave toto alone nevertheless.
They found their first hit with hold the line in 1978 more hits followed but it wasn’t until their fourth album aptly titled toto for in Roman numerals that.
Africa would enter the world but it almost didn’t make it believe it or not Toto keyboardist David Paich was out late one night in 1982 watching TV.
When he came across a documentary.
About Africa this was at the same time UNICEF commercials showing the starvation crisis in Africa we’re playing.
On television David who is the main character in the Africa music video was.
Fascinated by Africa ever since he was in grammar school he went to a Catholic school and he remembered the teachers talking about their mission work in Africa they had talked about the loneliness they felt which inspired David years later to write lyrics about a lover visiting one of these missionaries David also remembered the.
Teachers talking about their interactions with Africans and ceremonial blessings of everything which included the rains he’s been quoted as saying when he wrote the chorus lyrics I bless the rains down.
In Africa he was stunned at his own.
Words and felt that God was using him for an instrument by the way we talked about another song on a past episode of the story behind that was inspired by the documentaries and UNICEF commercials portraying the hunger crisis in Africa do you remember what it was the answer will be at the end of the show we all sing along to the.
Lyrics without giving them much thought nowadays basically because the song is just so awesome remember this is at a time when punk was climbing the charts and Prince and Michael Jackson were both forces to be reckoned with when page came to the band with his song they laughed at him joking that.
This song would be better suited for a solo album meaning they didn’t want to perform it guitarist.
Steve Lukather notably told tapes that if the song was a hit he would run naked down Hollywood.
Boulevard but he liked the tune and as they were finishing up Toto 4 they went with David’s persistence to record the song even though the song is about a.
Romantic partner visiting a lonely missionary the music video is a cryptic story about a researcher played by David Page who is searching a library in Africa for a book from which a torn piece of paper he’s holding came from a.
Librarian is working at her desk in the background as African natives are shown in the jungle surrounding the library then when the book David is looking for.
Is found the natives attack with Spears causing a lamp to crash setting the whole place including the book David had just found on fire the book by the way is titled Africa one of my favorite gifts use on Twitter is David’s face as he finds the book and gives a small smile and not but what about the.
Rest of the band oh don’t worry they’re also in the video sometimes showing up behind books as they’re moved in the.
Library but a lot of the time they’re shown performing on a stage that’s said to look like a giant stack of books with the Africa book David is looking for right on top the video was directed by Steve Barron who is also the director of noteworthy 80s classics Billie Jean by Michael Jackson dire straits money for nothing and the quintessential 80s music video take on me by aha he also directed movies and television including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1990 and Coneheads.
In 1993 guitarist Steve Lukather has said he knew the video was cheesy and hated making them this was a time before MTV so music videos weren’t made as often and were mostly used as a promotional tool.
But the song became a hit in February of 1983 two months before I was born so I have a feeling I was listening.
To the song in utero Africa by Toto is legacy is one that surprises most music journalists the song came out around the same time as Michael Jackson’s Thriller but it has since found a cult.
Following over the years and because in the age of the Internet everything is.
Mean worthy Africa found a new audience it’s unclear what.
The catalyst was that brought Africa back into the.
Spotlight some credit the webseries Yacht rock that ran from 2005 to 2010 for finally giving a name to the smooth rock of the late 70s and early 80s which included Toto among the many bands and musical artists they portrayed on the fictional comedy by the way this is my absolute.
Favorite genre of music so I’m glad there’s finally a name for it but Africa also came into the limelight when it was used in South Park Family Guy and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
In a skit that went viral Starring Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake as Boy Scouts from the 80s singing the songs covers and memes come out on YouTube seemingly weekly many of which are posted in the story behind discussion group on Facebook by the amazing listeners of the show including one cover done using a rubber chicken a campaign started by a fourteen-year-old.
Girl named Mary Klum used the hashtag Weiser cover Africa and it went viral with.
Her plea for Weezer to cover the song at first the band jokingly released a cover of Toto’s hit Rosanna which by the way was written about rosanna arquette but that’s the story for another day finally though Weezer gave the fans what they wanted they covered Africa by Toto in June of 2018 on Jimmy Kimmel Live toto in turn covered Weezer’s 2001 song hash pipe a week later at their live show Weezer’s cover hit number one in itunes.
And became the band’s first billboard number-one hit in ten years Weird Al Yankovic even joined the music video for Weezer’s cover and included an accordion solo allow me to get a little philosophical for my two year anniversary episode and say that in a world where we wake up to a.
Barrage of unsettling unnerving and sometimes horrifying news and social media posts maybe the smooth unassuming genius that is Africa by Toto is what the world needs in 2018 information for.
This episode was sourced from music radar The Guardian Rolling Stone and more links which can be found in the show notes at the story behind podcast.com I asked earlier in the show if you remember another song we talked about in the story behind.
That was inspired by documentaries about the hunger crisis in Africa the answer was in the story behind the band-aid in which I talked about the British collaborative effort named bandaid that released their song do they know it’s Christmas in 1984 as a.
Fundraiser for relief efforts this week on trivia Tuesday in the story behind discussion group on Facebook Jeffrey posted there are three.
US states that do not have natural borders that is all borders are defined by lines of latitude and longitude these are Colorado Utah and Wyoming if you’d like to talk.
About trivia you pick up during the week and have it read on the show join the story behind.
Discussion group on Facebook this episode was brought to you.
By the story behind executive producers who support the show through the patreon page at patreon.com / the story behind and to also get access to full scripts of the episodes before they go live thanks for listening.
And thanks for a great two years.