She left me and I fell apart.
I’d like to introduce you to NBT WebRadio. This is an independent web radio station, run by an old and dear friend, Martin Smit. Martin’s music knowledge is exceptional and his taste in music impeccable. Over the years he has been gathering the best of the independent and unsigned world, giving a voice to those who are on the brink of success and those who simply don’t give a damn about commercial success.
Give it a try, I guarantee your horizons will be widened and you will find something new, beautiful and moving to listen to.
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?”
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…
In 1997 I came back to South Africa after a romantic misadventure that ended in a very broken heart. One gets over these things and along the way good things happen, usually because of the influence of good people.
Before 1998 I had played in a few bands and we’d had great fun but I had never really pushed hard at trying to do anything with my songs. This was the year that changed.
I need to give credit here to Philip West. He used to date my sister and we always got on like a burning house on tequila. It was Philip who kept urging me to record my songs. I eventually roped him in to help me select a shortlist of songs and then he sat in while I went through rough arrangements and practiced like a madman so that I could do the recording as cheaply as possible.
I had the good fortune to know Peter Auret who had built a studio in his parents’ garage and so I could afford the recording time. On the 5 of June 1998 I went through to Florida and sat down in Peter’s studio and who should be behind the controls but Riku Lätti. I love Riku’s “Me and Mr. Sane” albums (Speaking of which…) and so I was a little awestruck. Riku did a great job in helping me through the process and I’ll always be grateful to him and Peter for that day.
In the end I recorded 18 songs. I remember driving through to Centurion afterwards where Phil was working at Exclusive Books and we listened to the disc in the shop after he had closed up. I had never been so proud before and the response I got to the demo in the next few months gave me the confidence to get going again. Steve Savage and I had started playing a few gigs by then, under the name Underdog. This was so long ago our first website was on Geocities… 🙂
In April 1999 we renamed the band to Sharkbrother and started gigging at Tings and Times. Thanks to the support of Jaco van der Merwe we eventually played there more times than I can remember. Soon we would start playing at the Abelarde Sanction, but more on this later.
Here’s one of the songs off that demo. It’s called silence and it’s about knowing the truth and keeping quiet about it.
This song is featured (in full band version) on the second Sharkbrother album, Life Full of Wednesadays. You can purchase the album here.http://rhythmmusicstore.com/music/231/Sharkbrother/Life-Full-Of-Wednesdays
If you are interested in the first Sharkbrother album, Taj Mahala, which was SA Rock Digest Album of the Year 2000 you can purchase the album here http://rhythmmusicstore.com/music/214/Sharkbrother/Taj-Mahala
My current solo project, 88 Kilos of Sunshine is available as a free download at http://www.88kos.com or at http://www.reverbnation.com/88kilosofsunshine
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.
It all started when Nadine Hutton joked on twitter that she needed new music for gym. I responded that perhaps Olivia Newton-John’s 80’s “classic” Physical might make an interesting addition to her playlist. Always quick to reply, Nadine responded with a dare. If I recorded it she’d listen to it.
It is worth ponting out that I’m a music slut. I don’t follow a specific genre and I manage to find something good in most songs (note: I said songs, not artists). My love for ABBA is nowhere near my love for Tindersticks but I love them, despite the “alternative thought police” efforts to sway me. However, this musical promiscuity fails with songs like Physical. It is an abysmal example of how cheap marketing titillation supersedes any kind of integrity. Newton-John was made into an example of the shallow 80’s pursuit of success through whatever means (Patrick Bateman would have it on his iPod no doubt).
But I like a challenge and a musical challenge even more. So the process started, looking for a way into this song which could, quite rightly, be considered a track beyond redemption. It proved to be quite a struggle and a week later I was begging Nadine for more time! The song just would not give in to arrangement, electric guitars, distortion, synths, big beats… they all fell by the wayside.
The breakthrough proved to be simplicity. Take it all away and turn the song into something plaintive, less demanding, more pleading. So the final recording is just voice and an acoustic guitar.
I sent the rough demo to Nadine and she approved, so I’m happy. And what more could you want than happiness. I also sent the demo to Nechama Brodie – and I’m still on cloud 9 after her comments. While you’re on the web, check out her site and her songs. I’m a big fan. She’s going to be featured on my upcoming album, singing Savannah, so get used to her voice. She’ll be a household name soon from her own songs.
So here are the two final versions. I recorded an additional one with a baritone vocal, mainly to satisfy Dori’s curiosity, but you can pick one as your favourite.
If you like these please check out my original songs. The cover songs always attract more attention which is sad, even if it’s understandable. The songs are available for free download at my website: www.88kos.com – you can download them all and make your own 88 Kilos of Sunshine cd. You might be asked to enter your e-mail address for some songs – please do, this adds to my mailing list and I guarantee you the address won’t be abused for spam.
One final note – I’ve always had a soft spot for demo recordings, so I still prefer the original demo recording… I worry that those who heard it will feel the same. I worry too much about these trivial things.
Finally, easiest way to get updates: Follow me on twitter – @88kos