The Communicator

Shame

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The year is 1978. The place, Enugu, Nigeria. William Onyeabor sits in the studio, surrounded by synthesizers and microphones, working hard to complete his seminal album, “Atomic Bomb.” Flash forward to Ann Arbor Michigan, 2015. A song has been chosen for the iconic “Song of the Day” column, but today’s song is different. It has a profound effect on every person who listens to it. As soon as it comes on, the listener starts tapping their feet uncontrollably. The corners of their mouth become upturned in an expression of sheer elation. What song could possible cause this reaction? None other than “Shame,” an Onyeabor composition so simplistically grooving it would be a crime not to put it up as today’s song of the day.

The song starts with the drums and bass, locked in and funking it up. Onyeabor’s signature synthesizer sound follows, with a soft ostinato from a mellow keyboard and some upbeat rhythmic comping by either a clavinet or guitar with the wah effect set to full funk. The inner beauty of Onyeabor’s music are the bare-bones vocals. His own voice has so much emotion in it, but when you add in the chorus behind him, an excellent blend occurs between lead and background. While this song may be about shame, usually a somber topic, the lyrics contain some humor, as the call and response from the chorus ends with, “I’d never guess you have the balls.” For every time you listen to this song today, you’ll bring a little extra sunshine into the world. Remember that.


Safe,

Erez

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