Musical Madness and Inexcusable Decadence in Bamako
It started yesterday about 4pm when Ann had a sudden overwhelming urge to mop the floor.
There is Oscar for such things, but Ann told me that sometimes she needs to re- establish contact with her domestic self. When this happens she puts on music and the mop becomes her dancing partner. Her happy musical choice was Marianne Faithfull’s ‘Broken English’, which propelled me too out of my afternoon slumber.
Is there anything as powerful as suddenly hearing much loved but long forgotten music?
Patti Smith followed with her great album of cover versions – Gimme Shelter, Soul Kitchen etc.
By the time The Velvet Underground had serenaded us over supper we had entered into a state of unstoppable euphoria and decided we had to go out on the town.
Bamako nightlife with its empty bars and night spots welcomed us, the only toubabs left. We had whisky and coke at The Diplomate which was offering Mande music; a beautiful Griotte in diamante platform shoes sang to the accompaniment of a band of electric gonis. .
Continuing on to the Terrace we sang old Rolling Stones numbers in the car at the top of our volume, but couldn’t remember the lyrics to ‘Paint it Black’ to our great frustration. Nevermind, the DJ at the empty Terrace had computerized equipment, so we just tapped it in: Paint it Black, and there it was: 'I see a Red Door and I want to Paint it Black...No Colours Anymore I want them to turn Black Fantastic strength, big loud speakers, an empty dancefloor and all the music in the world just for us!
We had some more whisky and coke and the only other person present, an old man in the corner of the vast bar (the Lebanese owner it turned out)joined us when we found Morrison Hotel and the three of us jived madly to Road House Blues:
The future's uncertain
And the end is always near.
Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, all night long.
No Pixies available alas, and no Iggy Pop. However, we consoled ourselves with Smells like Teen Spirit and jumped up and down so wildly that I broke the heal on my shoe and had to walk barefeet through the warm Bamako night when the Lebanese owner invited us to continue as his guests to the night club Byblos. (The Lebanese Owner had lived in Bamako for ten years but had never heard of Djenne!) Byblos was empty apart from a bouquet of ladies of the night who draped themselves enthusiastically around our escort, who is a habitué at this nightspot it appeared. He showed off his two toubab ladies happily, got behind the bar and made us Mojitos.. and we danced and danced some more ….