Today’s song comes from Africa (first in the series); Diaraby is a slow dreamy electric African blues with exquisite singing and guitar, by Ali Farka Touré; seven minutes of pure musical joy.

Let’s start our trip to Africa in Mali, famous among other things for being the location of Timbuktu; and for its music. In 1994 Ry Cooder and Malian musical godfather Farka Touré collaborated on Talking Timbuktu, which includes Diaraby and is one of my very favorite recordings.

Talking Timbuktu

It’s a can’t-miss record, cheerful yet deep, bluesy and African, especially appropriate for sitting outside on a warm day. I read the back story once of how Mr Farka Touré got into playing music that sounded simultaneously like John Lee Hooker and African campfire music, but I can’t remember it. I sure do love the music though.

Diaraby is just one of a half-dozen beautiful outings on this record. Ai Du has the blues runs played largely on an acoustic African violin. Gommi has the prettiest singing. Amandrai has an absolutely cosmic guitar break by Ry Cooder at 3:30, like liquid gold. But Diaraby is as sweet as any, a little more lively and, well, I could find a video of it.

Vieux Farka Touré · He’s Ali’s son, also a guitarist and singer, definitely an artist to watch. He does solo records and then a couple with Israeli keyboardist Idan Raichel as The Touré-Raichel Collective, which are awfully pleasing. For a taste, here’s their take on Diaraby (Spotify).

This is part of the Song of the Day series (background).

Links · Spotify playlist. This song on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon. As for video, I can’t find any of Ali and Ry playing together, but here’s a German TV clip that’s mostly an interview with Ry about Ali, with a couple of brief performance clips. Here’s a serene, crystalline performance of Diaraby, proving he didn’t need Ry Cooder around to be great. As an extra bonus, here’s Vieux Farka Touré playing Ai Du.


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From: Simon Chappell (Feb 07 2018, at 13:08)

I have that CD. I purchased it on my first visit to the United States back in early 1994. Almost any track from the album would have been a good selection, but I think that I'm going with Ai Du as my favorite. I also have his CD The Source. Great music.


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