Valiant Swart – Buitenkant, A Cover

Last week I bravely attempted a cover version of Valiant Swart’;s “In die Transvaal”. After far too many attempts I gave up. There’s nothing that I can say with “In die Transvaal” that isn’t in the original, Valiant’s version is perfect (obviously). Subsequently I went for “Buitenkant”. I’d always felt there was potential meaning in that song that could be lifted by slowing things down. Mostly through my own interpretation of the meaning of the words and I hope Valiant can bear with this fan’s hallucinations.

Valiant remains my favourite South African lyricist. Matthew van der Want might top him sometimes but there’s more earth, more simplicity in Valiant and his imagery is sublime. In Buitenkant alone there is enough brilliance The bridge, for example:

Koeëlvas is ‘n derduiwel en Carlos het ‘n slang

en Jimi Hendrix kom verby soos ‘n boeing

Geelbakkie bendes maak die bergies bang

en iemand vra “Hey, where yous ou’s going?”

Translation:

 

Bulletproof is a rogue, Carlos has a snake

Jimi Hendrix comes past like a Boeing

Yellow pickup gangs scare the hobos

and someone asks “Hey, where yous guy’s going?”

 

– Translation will lose some of it and, if you didn’t live in SA when the police vans were yellow, the “Yellow pickup gangs” line will also be meaningless.

 

Valiant was part of a vanguard of Afrikaner youth that challenged the apartheid machinery with rock ‘n roll on the “Voëlvry” tour. While they certainly did not overthrow the government they definitely robbed the government of their young electorate. After Johannes had ridiculed PW Botha in “Sit dit af” and Koos had opened his heart all of us to see it became possible to speak your mind. Our fear evaporated and we had found our voice.

The Voëlvry movement struck a chord and it still rings.

Notes: Yes, the timing’s off, yes, the levels are nowhere near right, but this is a party on a Friday night…

The World of Worries

After the frivolity of recording Physical there was always a chance that there would be a sinking feeling somewhere in the week.

I’d like to think that it’s just a hard day at the office where we are dealing with some tough issues in the middle of a boom period but it all came down to a video of a desperate man paying with his life for the temerity of standing up for himself. I feel terribly sad for the fate of Andries Tatane.

There is no worse feeling than helplessness. The service delivery protests around my country are symptoms of this feeling. People who are in need and are feeling ignored are trying to voice their frustrations because the channels open to them are of no use. Phones are not answered and a letter to the government representative is a meaningless, empty gesture. Some would say a vote would make a difference and perhaps they are right, but I fear the pain of our horrifying past (easily forgotten by those who did not suffer it) is still too fresh. If you don’t understand this I would venture that you should spend more time considering the mindset of the many. Aside from this there must be a sense of betrayal, of a trust that has been broken and this alone is reason enough for the anger.

Andries Tatane’s death leaves behind a family and I can’t stop thinking of them tonight. The price he paid, for asking for what is rightfully his, is simply too high and we in our suburban ivory towers just move on too quickly. This might just be middle-class anguish, but it is MY middle-class anguish so excuse me while I feel it.

My father told me some years back that, when I was a teenager, he could always gauge my mood by which song I was playing. It gave him a direct line to my emotions and maybe that’s why he was as forgiving as he was.

Tonight I kept playing Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. It’s the song I play when I’m sad. There’s a recording of my efforts below, not the best vocals, not the best playing, but bear with me as I share my mistakes.