In 1969 I stepped off a plane in Ibadan, Nigeria and a someone stuck a rifle up against my throat. Evidently I'd been taking illegal pictures over a war zone in Biafra, and now I was being carted off to have my priorities corrected by two machine gun toting Yoruba army thugs in dark glasses. I was saved by a U.S. ambassador, who bribed the lads. It was my first day in Africa…a baptism. I was a young criminologist; a month before I didn’t know where Nigeria was, let alone that one of the bloodiest tribal wars of all time was unfolding there. Six months later I was drinking palm wine and hanging out in the bars with Sir Victor Uwaifo and reading all of Graham Greene. And dodging bullets. I was adjusting to the eternal heat and smoking Target cigarettes and attending talking-drum juju ceremonies presided over by a white priestess named Suzanne Wenger, who took over the town of Oshogbo and carved giant vagina sculptures out of mud. She looked like Betty Davis and wore and Nigerian Fez cap over a cowboy hat. I thought she was 85 at the time, but she just died recently at age 110 or something….mighty big medicine. All these memories surfaced recently like old bullet fragments coming out of the skin. Graham Greene wrote that you never really leave Africa….years later, over a Pink Gin, the memories of those red clay roads at sundown….flood back into your bloodstream and heart. Ah Africa! And so, in 1969 I didn’t go to Woodstock….and I didn't go to Viet Nam. I went to Nigeria, and came of age in the market places and bars of Ibadan, while the U.S. was landing a man on the moon. I was carving wood and musical dreams. It was a world of mosquito nets and oil burning motorbikes and cook fires and Ibeji carvings. And guns. It all went down… East of Woodstock, West of Viet Nam.
(The next 11 blogs will deal with the songs on the coming record. This is song number one, in a series of dreams.)