1001 Songs Challenge,  1990s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #740: Diaraby Nene (1990)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…


Oumou Sangare – Diaraby Nene (1990)

Oumou Sangaré

Oumou Sangaré ( Bambara: Umu Sangare; born 25th February, 1968 in Bamako) is a Grammy Award-winning Malian Wassoulou musician, sometimes referred to as “The Songbird of Wassoulou”. Wassoulou is a historical region south of the Niger River, where the music descends from age-old traditional song, often accompanied by a calabash.


Lyrics (via Genius)


We have reached the end of 1990. We’re leaving Pakistan today, dear reader, and making our way to Mali in West Africa. Oumou Sangare began her career in the 1980s and specialised in Wassoulou music, which was from the Wassoulou region and was mainly performed by women. We join Oumou Sangare in 1990 with the release of her debut album, Moussoulou which translates as Women. 1001 Songs have gone with the track Diaraby Nene.

I struggled to find a translation for Diaraby Nene but did read that Wassoulou music deals with such areas as polygamy, fertility and child bearing. The genre is clearly about areas that resonate most with women and are exclusive to them even though many male politicians might disagree about having a say on women’s rights and bodies. The song begins with a fast acoustic intro before Oumou Sangare’s vocals come in. It is an extraordinary voice on display here which grows in intensity as the song progresses. It was disappointing not to find a reliable translation but the emotion of the piece is clearly evident. 

I was not familiar with Oumou Sangare or Wassoulou music but thoroughly enjoyed this piece despite not being certain what the song was about. A strong advocate of women’s rights, Sangare’s career has thrives and she continues to explore themes of women’s rights in her music. Today she is now regarded as the The Songbird of the Wassoulou.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

The Doors – The End (1967)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)

Ultravox – Vienna (1980)

The Smiths – How Soon Is Now? (1984)

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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