Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ali Farka Touré

I first heard of Ali Farka Touré on Ry Cooder's seminal Talking Timbuktu album in 1995. His guitar work and vocals are so mournful that I swear you can hear the soul of Africa. The song below Amandrai is a particular favorite of the blackfamilyo. We (I) made up our own English words while driving in the UK on vacation some years back. They go something like "I'm a Dry Cleaner Man......bring me your linens, your linens are dirty" and so on. His guitar in the live version below is so good I get goosebumps. The guy playing with him is Bassekou Kouyate, a noted ngoni player (a calabash with a stretched goat skin for a soundboard). This is live from the Segou festival in Mali, in Feb 2005.

Sadly Ali Farka Touré died in 2006 of bone cancer. He was a good man, and spent his money to improve the lives of the poor of Mali. In 2004 he became mayor of Niafunké and spent his own money grading the roads, putting in sewer canals and fueling a generator that provided the impoverished town with electricity.

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