1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Great Heart – Johnny Clegg

Great Heart – Johnny Clegg (The Spirit Of A Grey Tart)

Johnny Clegg & Savuka

Johnny Clegg & Savuka

People often try and describe what is fantastic about Africa and invariably these efforts resort to clichés about blue skies, open plains and bushveld. Few people have really managed to capture the spirit and greatness of the continent as Johnny Clegg did in ‘Great Heart’ and even less have done so to such a catchy tune. Full of imagery and loaded with high kicking, foot-stomping beats. This is one song about Africa that never fails to excite and delight.

The song was used in the movie version of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick’s book ‘Jock Of The Bushveld’ (most of the rest of the soundtrack being handled by Neill Solomon) and was also in the closing credits of Disney’s ‘Whispers: An Elephant’s Tale’. Jimmy Buffet did a cover version of it which had a Caribbean sound. While it’s great that international stars are covering a local artist, I’m afraid this version doesn’t work for me, it seems to lack hands on experience of the subject matter and tends to be a little bland in comparison to the original.

In more recent times, Johnny Clegg joined up with the elite of South Africa’s rock scene (Karen Zoid, Parlotones, Chris Chameleon to name a few) to re-record the song in aid of the Starfish charity. This version is well worth seeking out as it remains true to the spirit of ‘Great Heart’ but at the same time brings an updated slant to it.

Where to find it:
The Very Best Of Johnny Clegg & Savuka – Johnny Clegg & Savuka (2002), EMI, I-8575762
Videos:
Johnny Clegg & Savuka:


Johnny Clegg & Friends:

Hog Hoggidy Hog

Jimmy Buffet

Lyrics:

The world is full of strange behaviour
Every man has to be his own saviour
I know I can make it on my own if I try
But I’m searching for a Great Heart to stand me by
Underneath the African sky
A Great Heart to stand me by

Chorus:
I’m searching for the spirit of the Great Heart
To hold and keep me by
I’m searching for the spirit of the Great Heart
Under African sky
Sometimes I feel that you really know me
Sometimes there’s so much you can show me

There’s a highway of stars across the heavens
There’s whispering song of the wind in the grass
There’s the rolling thunder across the savannah
A hope and dream at the edge of the sky
And your life is a story like the wind
Your life is a story like the wind

Chorus
I’m searching for the spirit of the Great Heart
To hold and stand me by
But I’m searching for a Great Heart to stand me by
Underneath the African sky
I’m searching for the spirit of the Great Heart
I see the fire in your eyes
I’m searching for the spirit of the Great Heart
That beats my name inside
Sometimes I feel that you really know me
Sometimes there’s so much you can show me

Guk a ‘mzimba (body grow old)
Sala ‘nhliziyo (but heart remain behind)

(Written by Johnny Clegg)

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