Today we continue with our third installment of “The History Professor Shuffle.” This time, Professor Hardin explains what her shuffle came up with.
I’ve had iTunes since my mom gave me an iPod as a gift for starting grad school. At the time I had a 5-CD changer (and before that mixtapes my friends made by recording songs off the radio). While writing my master’s thesis and studying for the preliminary qualifying exams, I made an iTunes playlist for reading and one for writing in which the songs either didn’t have lyrics or were in Portuguese, since I don’t speak it and wouldn’t get distracted. I’ve added a few new albums since then, but still have mostly older ones.
1) Cocteau Twins, “Cherry-Coloured Funk” (1990)
The Cocteau Twins came up since I copied four of their CDs onto iTunes. It’s beautiful music that I put on the reading playlist since you often can’t understand what the vocalist is singing, which is their intentional effect. They were popular amongst my friends in college at UT–Austin.
Historical connection: Wikipedia says the singing style resembles traditions of speaking in tongues.
2) Lucinda Williams, “Essence” (2001)
I have all of her CDs. This song comes from a more recent one. She was the first musician I ever saw live when I was back in high school. La Zona Rosa was one of the few music venues that had all-ages shows. Her father was a poet and you can tell the influence in her lyrics.
Historical connection: The song is about drug addiction, which is definitely a wide-spread historical phenomenon.
3) Baaba Maal, “Demgalam” (1989)
He is one of the few major Senegalese artists who consistently sings in Pulaar more than Wolof.
Historical connection: The title, also spelled “demngalam,” means “my language,” and thus asserts pride in the Pulaar language and in Fulbe (Fulani) identity, which is based in part on pastoralism. My album’s version has a cow mooing at the end! Even though as a historian of Africa I don’t like to say this, I have to admit that agropastoralism has been fundamental to life in the Sahel “for thousands of years.” Today people still make it work, despite many challenges, just as they dealt with other changes in the past.
4) Raï’n’B Fever (113, Mohamed Lamine & Magic System), “Un Gaou a Oran” (2004)
Raï and Zouk were popular in France a few years ago.
Historical connection: Watch the music video. Isn’t it obvious? I could tell you, but it might take a while. There’s so much to say! Note the soccer match on TV and the magic teapot.
5) Caetano Veloso, “O Leãozinho” (1977)
A beautiful Brazilian song.
Historical connection: I don’t know. Let’s ask Professor Silvia Shannon!