Pick up a copy of Songlines Magazine (Jan/Feb 2013) in WH Smiths from 7 December and there will be a free Route book attached to it. Either The Train of Ice and Fire or Away From the Light of Day. Here’s a little information on the books and a few film clips.
Colombia, November 1993: a reconstructed old passenger train, bespangled with yellow butterflies, is carrying one hundred musicians, acrobats and artists on a daring adventure through the heart of a country soaked in violence. The intention is to put on free shows for locals at railway stations along the way: vibrant spectacles involving music, trapeze, tattoo-art, an ice museum and, star of the show, Roberto the fire-breathing dragon. Leading this crusade of hope is Manu Chao with his band Mano Negra.
Ramón Chao is on board to chronicle the journey. As the train climbs 1,000 kilometres from Santa Marta on the Caribbean Coast to Bogota in the Altiplano, Ramon keeps one eye on the fluctuating morale of the train’s eccentric cargo, and the other on the ever-changing physical and social landscape. As the papa of the train, he endures personal discomfort, internal strife, derailments, stowaways, disease, guerrillas and paramilitaries. When the train arrives in Aracataca, the real-life Macondo of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Mano Negra disintegrates, leaving Manu to pick up the pieces with those determined to see this once-in-a-lifetime adventure through to the end.
The Train of Ice and Fire is a book about hope and dreams in troubled times. It is about a father accompanying his son through an experience which will change his life. But most of all it is about Colombia, the flora, the fauna, the history, the politics and, more than any of that, it is a book about people.
Foreword by Ignacio Ramonet. Translated by Ann Wright
Here’s both father and son talking about the trip.
The magic couple Amadou and Mariam are one of the most loved and successful acts to come out of Africa this century, but their story is not one of overnight success. They have been singing their warm notes for more than thirty years.
This autobiography traces Amadou’s early years in Mali, first accepting his blindness, then adapting, to finding a source of joy in music and playing alongside some of the country’s leading musicians. On meeting Mariam at an institute for the blind in Bamako, he discovers they share a passion for music and for life, they fall in love and begin their career as a duo in search of an international stage.
Away from the Light of Day is an inspiring story which reveals the source of this golden duo’s contagious music, threading its way between tradition, religion, hope and superstition.
‘I don’t think there’s ever been a band from Africa with whom people have engaged in quite such a way.’ – Damon Albarn
‘The fizziest afro-pop blues ever bottled.’ – Observer