Songwriter's Corner|

By Lyndsey Parker, Yahoo Entertainment | “I think it was kind of sinking in just how big it was becoming. Maybe it was just my imagination, but I thought maybe on [Weezer leader] Rivers Cuomo’s face, there was an expression like, ‘Oh s***, I might have to play this the rest of my life.’”

Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro has actually since retired from touring with Toto, but he is talking about that time in June 2018 when he dropped in on Weezer’s Jimmy Kimmel performance of Toto’s beloved 1982 smash “Africa,” which turns 40 years old this month. Cuomo and company had recorded the song on a dare — they were responding to a 15-year-old fan’s tireless internet crusade to get Weezer to cover the song, after she heard it on Stranger Things — but their version turned into a true phenomenon, surprisingly becoming the alt-rock band’s first Hot 100 hit in eight years. (Toto late returned the favor by covering Weezer’s “Hash Pipe.”)

However, it almost sounds like Porcaro could be talking about himself, not Cuomo. Porcaro took a 27-year-break from Toto but rejoined in 2010 — just as “Africa” was starting to take on a new life in the digital age. (Here are FORTY-TWO cover versions and 190 internet memes, if you feel like going down an “Africa” rabbit hole). And while he’s not part of the current Toto lineup, as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti, he will be remembered for “Africa” for the rest of his life. And he didn’t even like the song as first.

“It almost didn’t make the album [Toto IV],” Porcaro tells Yahoo Entertainment with a chuckle. “If you look, it was totally buried [on the tracklisting]. It’s the last song — on the vinyl, the last cut of side two. You don’t put your only No. 1 single on the last cut of side two! So it’s been this weird anomaly to begin with.”

Porcaro explains that it was Toto vocalist David Paich’s ambitious but somewhat cringeworthy lyrics that had him and his bandmate Steve Lukather thinking “maybe it should be on Dave’s solo album or something. … We liked [the song], but the lyrics and stuff, we were going, ‘Dave, Serengeti? What the f*** are you talking about?’ We all gave him s*** about it. We all were like, ‘What the hell? What is this?’
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So, how does Steve think Jeff (who co-wrote “Africa” with Paich) and Mike would react to all this “Africa” love in 2018? “They’d love it,” he says happily. “They’d absolutely love it.”
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Photo: Toto’s “Africa” single art, 1982. (Photo” Columbia Records)

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