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on the sleeping of lions

a delightful article about the background of a song i know well.

i first learned it as 'the lion sleeps tonight'. led many a session with it. delightful with many voices and lots of harmony singers. i think at the time most people knew the version by 'the tokens'.

although actually i came in somewhere around the weavers aspect of the story. always knew there was more to it than i had been told. but had no way of finding out.

then this morning i read this.

as well as the music-history, i think the article's informative about how intellectual property rights work. or maybe don't. pay attention when you get to the part where the money starts rolling around.

then remember that the business world determined that there was no way that the writing or performance of music was worth paying anything for. they flat out refused. writers and musicians were expected to give it away.

until, of course, the business world figured out a way to make money at it.

then things changed. oh yes they did.

see also jacques attali's 'noise--the political economy of music', which is a fairly mind-bending read in many ways. but it also contains a brilliant sketch of the evolution of the business of music, if that kind of thing interests you. i've given away several copies of it over the years. think it might be time to get another. yes, i am that kind of geek. yes, i am amused when it surprises people.


(the article is from the guardian. an excellent regular source of music news and background. i'm also a massive fan of 'first dog on the moon'. see opinion/cartoons. no paywall. excellent reporting in a sea of opinion passing for news. if you like what you see, consider supporting them. i think they deserve it.)

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