Five Songs For Congo's Independence Day

Rocks Off remains fascinated with obscure holidays like World Rabies Day. Usually we focus on either lesser-known American holidays, or international holidays endorsed by the United Nations. Today though, we decided to branch out to other countries and wish a happy Independence Day to the citizens of the Republic of the Congo.

Now there are two Congos. The big one is the "democracy" and the little one is a semi-communist dictatorship. We're talking about the Commie one, which declared independence from France on this day in 1960. French is still the main language of the region, and their education system is based on the French school model.

It's not the greatest place to live. The government is still miles away from being what any of us would call fair, and malnourishment and HIV are significant problems.

On the plus side, though, this was the first African nation to pass a law ensuring protection for its indigenous people, in this case the pygmies. So there is some progress.

Whatever the real situation, the word "Congo" conjures up images of exotic adventure in the Western mind, and so we thought we'd put together a playlist for you as you dream of being an explorer.

5. Guadalcanal Diary, "Watusi Rodeo"

Rocks Off loves everything Murray Attaway does or will ever do, and one of his band Guadalcanal Diary's best upbeat tunes is "Watusi Rodeo" from the 1984 album Walking In the Shadows of the Big Man. How the tune has not become a staple cover of cowpunk bands is beyond us. Who wouldn't want to hold a rodeo in the Congo?

4. Jerry Goldsmith, "The Spirit of Africa"

It's cheesy, but Michael Crichton's Congo is one of our favorite books. We've read it dozen's of times. The film featuring the one and only Tim Curry? Not so much, but it did have a battle involving gorillas and that will always get you points in our book. Jerry Goldsmith did the soundtrack, and it's fairly pretty if somewhat stereotypically "African."

3. The Andrews Sisters feat. Danny Kaye, "Civilization"

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We don't really know what it is about the Andrews Sisters that make game designers want to put their songs in bizarre first-person shooters, but we have to admit it works. We've been playing Bioshock lately, and they fit in like a hand in glove. "Civilization," featuring Danny Kaye, appears in Fallout 3. The song is a happy-go-lucky look at supposedly savage societies and a firm conviction by the people of the Congo that they'll be better off where they are than stuck in countries gearing up for nuclear war.

2. Genesis, "Congo"

Genesis is one of those bands that we always say we're not big fans of, but then we can't name a single song that we've ever heard that we didn't like. Now, a lot of people will take issue that any song from Calling All Stations is a true Genesis song, since the album lacks the participation of Phil Collins or Peter Gabriel, but "Congo" is a great track that really gets the heart a-thumpin'.

Bisso na Bisso, "Tata Nzambé"

The Congo has a pretty vibrant hip-hop scene. Groups like Bisso na Bisso are dedicated to mixing the French rap scene with a pride in their African heritage. Black French rappers tend to have a much harder time rising through the music industry than their white counterparts, and Bisso na Bisso is hoping to change that. Our French is nowhere near good enough to break down the song for you, but whatever it is, it's got a hell of a flow.

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