WIMOWEH / THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs

 

WIMOWEH / THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT
Alan Lomax brought this song to the attention of Pete Seeger of the folk group The
Weavers. It was on one of several records Lomax lent to Seeger. After having performed
the song for at least a year in their concerts, in November, 1951, they recorded their
version entitled “Wimoweh”, a mishearing of the original song’s chorus of ‘uyimbube’
(meaning “you’re a lion”). Pete Seeger had made some of his own additions to the
melody. The song was credited exclusively to Paul Campbell. Pete Seeger explains in one
recording, “it refers to an old legend down there, [about] their last king, who was known
as Chaka The Lion. Legend says, Chaka The Lion didn’t die when Europeans took over
our country; he simply went to sleep, and he’ll wake up some day.”
New lyrics to the song were written by George Weiss, Luigi Creatore, and Hugo Peretti,
based very loosely upon the meaning of the original song. The Tokens‘ 1961 cover of this
version rose to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and still receives fairly frequent
replay on many American oldies radio stations. In the UK, an up-tempo rendering of this
version was a top-ten hit for Karl Denver and his Trio. In 1971, Robert John also
recorded this version, and it reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972. Since then,
“Wimoweh” / “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” has remained popular and frequently covered.
We-de-de-de, de-de-de-de-de de, we-um-um-a-way (drum fill)
We-de-de-de, de-de-de-de-de de, we-um-um-a-way
A wimoweh, a-wimoweh a-wimoweh, a wimoweh
A wimoweh, a-wimoweh a-wimoweh, a wimoweh
A wimoweh, a-wimoweh a-wimoweh, a wimoweh
A wimoweh, a-wimoweh a-wimoweh, a wimoweh
In the jungle the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle the lion sleeps tonight
(repeat Wimoweh chorus–with vocal ad lib similar to the intro in the
foreground)
Near the village the peaceful village the lion sleeps tonight
Near the village the quiet village the lion sleeps tonight
(repeat wimoweh chorus)
Hush my darling, don’t fear my darling. The lion sleeps tonight.
Hush my darling, don’t fear my darling.The lion sleeps tonight
(repeat wimoweh chorus with vocal ad lib)