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The Soundtrack of my Life

Africa by Toto

Yes, I know the version in the playlist is by Weezer, not Toto. I like Weezer’s version better.

Many of the songs in my soundtrack remind me of specific events, some are for periods of time. This song, like a few in this cluster, are from high school, notably my final year. Africa holds a particular place in my memory — indeed, my heart — because it reminds me of my friends.

In that year, we all participated in music. While I was a bass singer (thankfully few notes) in the choir, I drew the line at pretty much anything else, as I had serious public performance issues (insert your own joke here) and didn’t want to have a panic attack. The others went on to do the school musical (which was West Side Story that year), those that played instruments (this excluded Stuart, Chris, and myself) went into the concert band, and a select few did Jazz Choir (Theresa, Chris, Hil, James, J(QX), Kathryn, and I think Eva). Jazz Choir was the best of our best singers (Jazz Band, similarly, the best of our best musicians).

Being in the music department (well, an adjunct, anyway), I got to see a lot of Jazz Choir’s performances. There is only one of their songs that I remember: Africa.

While I might prefer the Weezer version over the original Toto (let’s be honest, it’s because of the power chords), Toto had superior harmony. But Toto had nothing on our Jazz Choir. We didn’t have a full band backing Jazz Choir (most of the time), it was mostly them and their voices. The only time they ever sounded off was the first day of our Florida trip, when we’d all been up all night long before the flight, stayed up all day, for an afternoon performance. It was cringingly off-key. Fortunately, we played for an audience of seniors who probably couldn’t tell.

I wish I had audio of the Jazz Choir. I wish I had video of them performing. But then I’m also glad I don’t, because in my mind, they always sounded — and will always sound — perfect. They were aspirational, an example of true talent that we could only hope to see, let alone match. That they were my friends just made it that much more special, knowing that I’d sung (albeit poorly) with them whilst we were out driving around at some unforsaken hour of the night, windows down on some remote road (back when Oakville actually had remote roads).

I have a strange dream — more a desire, I suppose — to get the Jazz Choir together sometime and do another concert. Not just see my friends, but see them perform. Maybe they’ll bless the rains.