1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Shot Down In The Streets – The Cherry Faced Lurchers

Shot Down In The Streets – The Cherry Faced Lurchers

Cherry Faced Lurchers

The Cherry Faced Lurchers

The late great James Phillips was the driving force behind the Cherry Faced Lurchers and Jamesons was the legendary club where the politically astute bands of the 80’s made their name. Live At Jamesons, recorded by Shifty boss Lloyd Ross, is not only an important album in South African musical history, but is also an integral part of the history of the struggle against apartheid.

One of the strongest tracks on the album is ‘Shot Down In The Streets’ which is full of real white guilt, (not some of the pseudo guilt that has become fashionable since the fall of apartheid). The lyrics are biting and the rough edge to the live recording coupled with Phillips aching vocals make ‘Shot Down In The Streets’ an absolute essential South African track. As Shaun de Waal says in the liner notes to the Retrofresh CD release of ‘Live At Jamesons’  ‘It is a song that speaks directly to the hearts and minds of a youth taking a cold hard look at who they are as white South Africans.’

Read the last stanza in the lyrics below. That is what the song is about, and if that doesn’t grab you and twist your guts in a knot, then you’ve probably never experienced real white guilt.

Where to find it:
Live At Jamesons – The Cherry Faced Lurchers (1985) Retrofresh, FRESHCD132



Long have we all waited
Many times have we seen
In the eyes of the labourers
In the eyes of the neighbours
A feeling that leaves none to guess
Who’s been doing what
For who & when for less & who’s
Been left out there with
Dust on his dead feet,
Shot down in the streets

Look right, at the sunset
Look left, pour the tea
Look on in amusement
Milk first and mass crazy here
Nowhere else in the world can you
See so many monsters & mutations
That creep out so efficiently & leave
You wondering what happened to all
Those sacred things, they got
Shot down in the streets

New morning, new morning
Old ways get away
But here in my cradle
I lie incapable
I’m a white boy who looked at his life
Gathered in his hands and saw it was
All due to the sweat of some other man
That one who got
Shot down in the streets

(written by James Phillips)


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3 thoughts on “Shot Down In The Streets – The Cherry Faced Lurchers

  1. xkevinphoenix on said:

    Look on in AMAZEMENT.
    I’ve always thought this song is more about anger and James wanting to drive a stark point home to his countrymen. As someone screams from the audience on the live recording, “TELL THEM!”
    The song is also a classic example of another musical technique James employed frequently, that of creating moments for reflection in his songs, pregnant pauses encapsulating the challenge “so what are you gonna do about all this shit, man?”
    PS: These lyrics are those of the studio version on the very wonderful and essential Forces Favourites compilation

  2. whilst on the subject of James -I have put up Soul Ou ,Made in South Africa and the Bernoldus album as well as the rare Boxberg Bommer single all Sjambokmusic.com – check it out at least just to listen in full quality

  3. Pingback: Sounds – and pictures – of South Africa’s musical past ← My New Old Self

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