Thursday, May 20, 2010

Miriam Makeba: Pata Pata

Earlier this week I mentioned Hugh Masekela in conjunction with The Byrds’ “So You Want to be a Rock ‘N’ Roll Star.” I neglected to ask a trivia question. What top 20 hit mentioned him by name in the lyrics? The answer will appear at the end of this post.

I mention Masekela as his ex-wife is the featured artist for today’s TV Thursday theme. Miriam Makeba, who was married to Masekela from 1964 to 1966, had one hit record in the US: her 1967 song “Pata Pata” which is now being used for the latest Honda Accord Crosstour commercial.

There is one word for this song by Miriam Makeba: infectious. Sung in the Xhosa language of her father, “Pata Pata” can be translated into English as “Touch Touch.” Xhosa is the most popular of the Bantu languages spoken in Makeba’s homeland of South Africa. The Bantu language family includes 668 sub-Saharan separate languages that are spoken throughout the continent.

While I can’t understand the words, the song makes me happy when I hear it. Despite that the majority of Americans also couldn’t understand it did not prevent it from charting at #12 in 1967. What a perfect song to fit a product that is touted as “it fits without fitting in.”

The Honda Accord Crosstour Commercial

By the way, the answer to the trivia question is the 1967 hit by Eric Burdon and the Animals “Monterey” where Burdon sings, “Hugh Masekela’s music was black as night.”

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