There are many babies at the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park right now, including a baby hippo born a week ago, a baby lowland gorilla, and a baby jaguar.
This is not a baby:
That is a big cat, an African Lion, the King of the Jungle. Doesn’t look all that ferocious to me. In fact, he looks suspiciously like another cat I know:
I have never seen the African Lions at the Zoo looking ferocious, only Zoey the Cool Cat:
Every time I see lions sleeping, I think of Robert John and his 1972 hit, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
Robert John peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It’s the version I grew up with; I was a junior in high school.
The song itself, though, is actually quite a bit older, having originally been recorded in 1939 as “Mbube” by the South African Zulu group Solomon Linda & The Evening Birds. Mbube is Zulu for lion.
Whenever I think of Zulu and Africa, I think first of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, best known for singing with Paul Simon on his #1 album “Graceland” from 1986. Sure enough, Ladysmith Black Mambazo did a version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
(YouTube and Wikipedia by far are my favorite Internet sites but they do cause me not to visit libraries as often as I should…….)
The Weavers had a #14 hit in 1952.
I found The Weavers themselves to be rather interesting because one of their members was the incomparable Pete Seeger (1919-2014). Seeger was a prolific songwriter, having written “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”, recorded by dozens of groups throughout music history and listed by New Statesman as one of the Top 20 political songs of all time. I am most familiar with the version by Peter, Paul & Mary:
Seeger also wrote “If I Had A Hammer,” a #10 hit for Peter, Paul & Mary in late 1962, as well as a #3 hit for Trini Lopez in the summer of 1963.
“Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds also was written by Seeger and was a #1 hit for them in late 1965. The Byrds were one of three groups performing at the first rock concert I ever went to, that concert being at The Yellow Rose of Texas dance hall in Corpus Christi in 1972. (Chicago & Dr. John were the other two groups.)
With that little side journey out of the way, let’s get back to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
The Tokens’ version arguably is the best known, having spent three weeks at #1 in 1961.
I say arguably because younger readers probably know best the version by Timon and Pumbaa used in the Disney movie “The Lion King.”
I feel like I just played a musical version of Six Degrees of Separation.
And with that, I return you to your regularly scheduled Monday programming.
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