The lion sleeps tonight

The lion sleeps tonight

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FOLK  ∙  10 PECULIAR FOLK THEMES FROM THE 1960s  ∙

When he delivers a song that later becomes popular, the singer-songwriter is just its creator and first performer. He has no control over how others will fix it and the song's later life is quite another story. The secondary fates experienced by the 10 songs below are instructive in this regard.

  1960  ∙  Where have all the flowers gone  (Pete Seeger)  ∙  1961  ∙  She moved through the fair  (Irish trad.)  ∙  THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT  (the Tokens)  ∙  1964  ∙  House of the rising sun  (USA 1933)  ∙  1965  ∙  Subterranean homesick blues  (Bob Dylan)  ∙  1966  ∙  Hey Joe  (Bill Roberts1962)  ∙  1967  ∙  Without her  (Harry Nilsson)  ∙  Suzanne  (Leonard Cohen)  ∙  1968  ∙  Those were the days  (USSR 1925)  ∙  1969  ∙  Streets of London  (Ralph McTell) 

 

THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT  -  A 1961 world hit based on a 1939 South-African song

The song ‘MBUBE' was composed and recorded by Solomon Linda in Johannesburg in 1939. Its chorus 'Uyi'Mbube' means 'You're a lion' in Zulu language, but such chorus gets changed into 'Wimoweh' in its American covers of the 1950s. The lyrics ‘In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the Lion sleeps tonight’ are added in its 1961 version by The Tokens'. The song 'Wimoweh /The Lion Sleeps Tonight' soon turned into a major international hit covered by countless renowned artists and featured by Walt Disney in its animation The Lion King (1994) and movie The Lion King (2019).

MBUBE    1939  ∙ Solomon Linda & the Evening Birds (RSA)  ∙  1963  ∙  Miriam Makeba (RSA)  ∙  1990  ∙  Mory Kante (Mali)  ∙  2010  ∙  Angelique Kidjo  (Benin)  ∙  WIMOWEH  ∙  1951  ∙  Pete Seeger & the Weavers (USA)  ∙  1952  ∙  Yma Sumac  (Perú)  ∙  1959  ∙  The Kingston Trio (USA)  ∙  THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT  ∙  1961  ∙  The Tokens (USA)  ∙  Gloria Lasso (SP)  ∙  1962  ∙  The Karl Denver Trio (UK)  ∙  Henri Salvador (FR)  ∙  1971  ∙  Mia Martini (ITA)  ∙  1993  ∙  R.E.M. (USA)   ∙  1994  ∙  Walt Disney animation 'The Lion King' (USA)  ∙  1999  ∙  Desmond Dekker (JAM)  ∙  2019  ∙  Walt Disney movie 'The Lion King' (USA)  ∙

1939

1959 / 1961 / 1962 / 1963 / 2019