Music: the blood of life.

It’s Friday night, I’m debating whether I’m hungry enough to munch on dry cereal or if I can wait and order something, so what is a girl to do?

Blog, clearly. Blog about sheer awesome.

On this fine evening, I have discovered the latest Love Of My Life: a radio station geared to Jonathon Coulton. I have been listening to it for two hours now and I have been serenaded by JoCo himself, Weird Al Yankjovic, Great Big Sea, the Barenaked Ladies, Da Vinci’s Notebook, Stephen Lynch, Tripod, and They Might Be Giants.

You guys. This is, like, the radio station of my hopelessly nerdy little dreams.

The Barenaked Ladies and They Might Be Giants, generally, I can sing along with (as long as the songs played were released before 2003, when I left for college and could no longer remember where my sister had stashed all the cds she didn’t take with her when she moved to California). My knowledge of Weird Al Yankjovic’s music, until tonight, extended to “he wrote a song called ‘Eat It’ and…some other spoofy stuff.” Great Big Sea is a name I remember from back when I actually listened to radio and not just podcasts (meaning, I know that name from NPR’s The Thistle and Shamrock sometime before 1998) but the only song of theirs I can claim to know is their rendition of “The Night Pat Murphy Died,” and frankly, I like the live-performance-in-a-pub version by the Bilge Pumps better.

JoCo is someone whose name I have seen frequently in recent years, because I have no life and spend more time than is healthy on the Internet. Also, in case you missed it the first time around, I am a huge nerd who reads Penny Arcade and went to PAXEast and follows Wil Wheaton and Peter Sagal on Twitter. […And as I write this, Pandora moves to a song by Paul and Storm. Yesssssss.] I always figured JoCo’s music would drift into my life at some point in time and I never made much of an effort to seek it out and find out exactly what was so awesome about him.

I am so, so, soooooo sorry I only looked into it tonight.

You guys, this is a man who wrote a song called “Tom Cruise Crazy” and then scheduled an annual cruise he decided to dub “JoCo Cruise Crazy” and how can anyone who writes a song about his shell being ripped apart by an octopus not be mind-blowingly awesome? In addition, he releases all of his music under a Creative Commons license. That is always the first mark of a sheerly awesome musical personality.

Normally, I’m not much of a listener to Pandora, but until I figure out which of my friends have JoCo, Paul and Storm, Great Big Sea, and Tripod albums I can borrow and burn copies of, I will probably be glued to this webpage. [Tripod might actually be my favorite band in this station, actually, although I’ve only heard three of their songs so far. Live recordings are SO much more admirable (read: AWESOME) to me than studio ones, and these guys are hilarious!]

You see, I would start budgeting and setting money aside for the Full Album option on JoCo’s website, but I made myself a promise last night:

My next music purchase will be Femi Kuti’s “Africa for Africa.” I listened to samples from this album yesterday on iTunes. It absolutely blew my mind.

I’ve been vaguely aware of Femi Kuti for a few years, now. While I was at Tufts studying ethnomusicology, one of my fellow graduate students was researching the American Afrobeat movement and the legacy it inherited from Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti’s father.

Fela Kuti is someone you have to watch to truly take in: he revolutionized music in Nigeria and brought protest songs and musical activism to a new level. While other African musicians definitely put out important and influential music (I’m thinking in particular of Thomas Mapfumo, who gave Zimbabwe an incredible protest tool: chimurenga, although there were certainly others!), I don’t know of anyone whose influence has been quite as global as Fela’s.

Femi Kuti absorbed the heart and soul of his father’s creation. Bands worldwide took in the rhythms and harmonies and political aspects of Afrobeat, but no one other than his son quite grasped the depth of spirit that drove Fela. Femi has developed his own fierce drive to improve the world around him and nothing will keep him from that mission. Fela’s influence is everywhere but his power resides only in his oldest son.

If you have some free time, watch this documentary on Fela Kuti. Check out more of Fela and Femi Kuti’s music. If you have ten dollars to spare, go onto iTunes and get yourself a copy of “Africa for Africa.” You will not be disappointed.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go munch on my freshly delivered grilled salmon and black beans (isn’t it amazing to live in a town where you can have real food delivered for less than it would cost to go to a family restaurant?) and think about Christmas on Chiron Beta Prime.


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