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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Mali: Black Music

The Kayes-Bamako train
The Kayes-Bamako train

My choice of accommodation in Bamako was ironic, given earlier events on the train. Inspired by the fires of hell outside the window of the Kayes-Bamako train, I plugged into my Walkman to soothe away the rest of the journey. For my African trip I've recorded five compilation tapes, each created according to a specific mood; they are Up (uplifting, happy stuff), Mellow (for those chill-out moments), Folk (hey, nonny nonny), Hard (air guitar optional) and Pot Luck (a random mix for random moods). Given the harshness of the environment, the satanic screeching of the train's wheels and the fires raging outside, I chose Hard.

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death's construction

'Blah Sabbah?' he said. 'What is that? The name of the song?'

In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh Lord, yeah!

I sincerely hope he didn't understand Ozzy's lyrics, especially the bit that goes 'Satan, laughing, spreads his wings' as Tony Iommi's guitar arpeggios down through the octaves. I doubt that listening to Black Sabbath preaching about satanic war is one of the recommended observances during Ramadan – especially given the current tensions in the Gulf – but at least Mohammed seemed to enjoy the experience, which was the main thing, I guess.