I’ve been subscribed to Snap Judgement for a while; it was actually one of the first podcasts I started listening to.
Self-described as storytelling with a beat, Snap Judgement is essentially This American Life for people who don’t sip pour-over coffee while wearing sweater vests. (No shade to Ira Glass though, I never miss an episode). It’s a mix of traditional radio reporting, short fiction pieces, and spoken word. That said, it’s a little hit-or-miss for me. And with hundreds of episodes in its catalogue, listening to the right one first is key.
If you’ve never listened to Snap Judgement (or listened to a bad episode and feel like giving it a second shot) I recommend this week’s offering: #717 – Shake, Rattle, and Roll.
In college, I took a class called Music and World Cultures. It was taught by a young white guy and was therefore not so World Cultured after all. This episode is everything I wanted but didn’t get from that class. It’s the story of Wells Fargo: the 1970’s Rhodesian rock band.
Quick history lesson for those in need: Britain colonized Rhodesia in the late 1800s. In the 1920s, Rhodesia chose not to amalgamate into South Africa as a 5th province, and instead became somewhat autonomous. A minority white government came into power triggering civil wars and apartheid-esque segregation. In the 80’s, Rhodesia became the Republic of Zimbabwe. Government corruption, fueled partially by diamond trade, ensued. You should read about it.
With all that rocky history, it’s no surprise that Zimbabwe’s musical revolution has gotten somewhat lost. But it happened, and it was pretty incredible. The 70s in Zimbabwe were musically akin to the 60s in North America. The counterculture there produced a sound they called “Zim Heavy”: Hendrix-style rock music that became steadily more political as the democratic revolution gathered steam. Wells Fargo (the band, not the bank) was front and center.
Shake, Rattle, and Roll gives you their story, a sample of their music, and a taste of what life in early post-colonial Zimbabwe was like. It’s absolutely engrossing, and the music is unreal.