Friday, September 03, 2010

On "Wimoweh"

Steyn is a remarkably talented writer with an even more remarkable breadth of knowledge.

Late in his essay on the "Wimoweh" tune, he deposits this gem:

...A few years after Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds made their hit record, it came to the notice of Pete Seeger, on the prowl for yet more authentic traditional vernacular folk music for the Weavers. He misheard "Mbube" and transcribed it as "Wimoweh". That right there is a great insight into the "authenticity" of the folk-music boom: the most famous Zulu word on the planet was invented by a New York Communist in 1951.

...On which the Capitalist Disney bunch made a large fortune. The original author got eighty-seven cents for the tune and, like Mozart, died a pauper.

While you're at the link, you'll also learn the origin of Elvis' "I Can't Help Falling in Love..."

HT: Grim, who provides a video of the original performers.

1 comment:

John Foust said...

An excellent audio version of the story is at WNYC. There was a video on PBS in 2004, but legal issues prevent further showings.