On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge 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 every day (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… legendary!
Amadou & Mariam – Sabali (2008)
Amadou & Mariam are a musical duo from Mali, composed of the Bamako-born couple Amadou Bagayoko (guitar and vocals) (born 24 October 1954) and Mariam Doumbia (vocals) (born 15 April 1958). Their album Welcome To Mali (2008) was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album.
Farewell to New York and the US today, dear reader. A long journey we have ahead of us. We fly across the Atlantic Ocean to Africa and to Mali. Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia formed a duo in 1974 having found one another at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind. Their music in much of the 1980s and 1990s was simple in arrangement but as the 20th century drew to a close the duo began to experiment with various styles. We join them in 2008 with the release of their album, Welcome to Mali, where the duo collaborated with the likes of Blue frontman, Damon Albarn. From there 1001 Songs have gone with the track, Sabali.
Sabali translates as “patience” and in the track the lyrics seem to tell the story of Amadou & Mariam themselves. The song opens by talking of two individuals finding one another through a love of music. It then moves on and celebrates the importance of being patient when there are things that we want. The song ultimately switches to that ideal of finding love, which occupies so many of us. The song closes with the sound of the couple in the midst of love and enjoying their lives and savouring the moment for their patience in waiting for one another has paid off.
Sabali is hard to nail down in terms of its genre. It had a feel of dance, synth and electronic to me initially but there are a mixture of styles going on here while the vocals are also varied. The collaborations the duo enjoyed on this album are fantastic and what we have here is both a catchy song but also one that is rather unique. Both the song and the album would prove very popular upon release and Amadou & Mariam continue to perform to this day with their last album being in 2017.
Favourite songs so far: