Live 1987. This is probably Toto's most famous song, but their guitarist Steve Lukather would like you to know that there is much more to the band: Toto were top studio musicians before forming the group, and known as some of the best in the business. Lukather told Rock's Backpages: "A lot of people categorize us as 'that 'Africa' or 'Rosanna' band,' and I hate that s--t. We have a lot more substance than that. Don't get me wrong - those songs have been great to us, but you really don't understand the depth of the band if that's all you know.This song tells the story of a man who comes to Africa and must make a decision about the girl who comes to see him. He is enamored with the country, but must leave if he is going to be with her.
Toto keyboard player David Paich wrote the song, and explained in the liner notes of Toto's Best Ballads compilation: "At the beginning of the '80s I watched a late night documentary on TV about all the terrible death and suffering of the people in Africa. It both moved and appalled me and the pictures just wouldn't leave my head. I tried to imagine how I'd feel about if I was there and what I'd do." Paich had never been to Africa when he wrote the song.
With introspective lyrics like, "I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become," we wondered if this song involved a bit of personal reflection. Turned out, it did. In our interview with David Paich, he explained: "There's a little metaphor involved here, because I was at the age where I was so immersed in my work, 24/7, that at times I felt like I was becoming just a victim of my work. There was a little bit of autobiographical information in there: being consumed by my work, not having time to go out and pursue getting married and raising a family and doing all the things that other people do that were my age at the time."In an article in Time magazine, an unidentified group member said they were looking for a song just to close off the album and did not think "Africa" would do as well as it did. They also mentioned that if you listen closely during the lyrics "catch some waves," you can hear some of them singing "catch some rays."