Martin Talstrom: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

By Jim Weaver:
Here is a video from Martin Talstrom’s home page.  Tab is available.  The song named here is familiar to all by its Americanized name.
According to Wikipedia,
Mbube“, now known as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight“, also known as “Wimba Way” or “Wimoweh“, is a song written and recorded by Solomon Lindaoriginally with the Evening Birds (Song by Solomon Linda originally titled just “Mbube”),[1]for the South African Gallo Record Company in 1939. Originally composed only in IsiZulu, it was adapted and covered internationally by many 1950s pop and folk revival artists, including The Weavers in 1949, Jimmy Dorsey, Yma Sumac, Miriam Makeba, and The Kingston Trio. In 1961 it became a number one hit in the U.S. as adapted in English by thedoo-wop group The Tokens. It went on to earn at least US$15 million in royalties from covers and film licensing.

“Mbube” (Zulu: lion) was written in the 1920s by Solomon Linda, a South African singer of Zulu origin, who worked for the Gallo Record Company as a cleaner and record packer, and who performed with a choir, The Evening Birds, where, according to South African journalist Rian Malan:

“Mbube” wasn’t the most remarkable tune, but there was something terribly compelling about the underlying chant, a dense meshing of low male voices above which Solomon yodelled and howled for two exhilarating minutes, occasionally making it up as he went along. The third take was the great one, but it achieved immortality only in its dying seconds, when Solly [Solomon Linda] took a deep breath, opened his mouth and improvised the melody that the world now associates with these words:

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.”

The original version by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds is available on YouTube.


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