After Ali Farka Touré's African-origin-blues crossover, another fork the musical track, from those Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert in northern Mali, from their 2014 album Emmaar. Founded by Ibrahim Ag Alhabib in 1979 in Algeria, the band also show another strand of the blues DNA, influenced by old Tuareg songs, modern Arab pop, chaabi protest music, Algerian pop rai, and western rock and blues, but most specifically in West African music, and from the "great bend" region along the Niger River, between Timbuktu and Gao. At the age of just four, Ag Alhabib witnessed the execution of his father, a Tuareg rebel during a 1963 uprising in Mali. He learned to play guitar in Algeria in refugee camps making one out of a tin can, a stick and bicycle brake. He lived near Bordj Badji Mokhtar and in the deserts around the southern city of Tamanrasset, where he also got his first proper guitar from an Arab man. They returned to Mali in the early 1990s as the war began an uneasy ceasefire. As a boy he remembers seeing a western cowboy film in which one was playing guitar around a campfire, and this ignited his passion for music. Other influences also include Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley and Dire Straits.
The band have variously collaborated with Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Wilco, Mark Lanegan and the electro folk band Tunng. Tinariwen's music captures the tranquility of the desert, and yet also the fear, insecurity and fragility of the Tuareg life. It's another form of itinerant blues, but played with great dignity and beauty. This song protests against treatment by the Mali government within that tradition.
See also the Mali-exile band, Songhoy Blues.
Walking through it
Walking in the winter
Then I see it
Dancing through fire
Dancing through fire
The ideals of the people have been sold off cheap, my friends
Any peace imposed by force is bound to fail
And give way to hatred
My people, where is that self-confidence
Made of dignity and beauty of spirit
That our ancestors bequeathed to us?
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