1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Beautiful In Beaufort Wes – Gert Vlok Nel

Beautiful In Beaufort Wes – Gert Vlok Nel

Beautiful In Beaufort Wes - Gert Vlok Nel

Beautiful In Beaufort Wes – Gert Vlok Nel

Gert Vlok Nel was from Beaufort Wes and studied at Stellenbosch. Perhaps that is why he manages to make the blues sound like boere musiek. Or to be a bit more accurate about ‘Beautiful In Beaufort Wes’, it is country & boere blues. It has the country & western theme to the lyrics, a blues harmonica and rhythm and yet, even without the aid of an accordion, there is something boer-ish about it. Perhaps it’s just because Beaufort Wes is farming territory that this has rubbed off on the music.

But Gert Vlok Nel is a poet more than a musician. While the music has a pleasant lilt to it and (like Dylan) his voice is not the greatest singing one, his (Beautiful) words are what drag you into the song and tie your heartstrings in a knot. This is a bittersweet song about a carefree love of youth that is lost. But it’s not just the loss of the love that is mourned, but also the loss of youth and the freedom it brings. Perhaps the most telling line is, after describing how the girl would ‘vry’ in trains and graveyards and in the back seats of Ford Fairlanes, she grows up to be a computer analyst and “Last winter you tried to cut both of your wrists”. You almost feel the knife going into yourself as the line comes up.

The song has an aching beauty about it. There is a delicious mournfulness that is as comforting as it is disturbing. ‘Beaufort Wes Se Beautiful Woorde’, the album that it comes from made it to number 59 in the Dutch album charts, a testimony to the strength of his words.

Where to find it:
Beaufort Wes Se Beautiful Woorde – Gert Vlok Nel (2006) Munich Records, MRCD281

Video:

Lyrics:
En jy was beautiful op Beaufort-Wes
en ek was so verskrik en verskriklik lief vir jou
en jy het op grafte en op treine
en op Ford Fairlane se agterseats gevry
en nou is jy en jou man both computer analysts
en laas winter you tried to cut both of your wrists
en nou skryf jy vir my jy kan nie meer slaap nie,
nie meer lag nie,
nie meer iets vir jouself doen nie,
nooit ooit weer vir my soen nie

En mooi mooi mooi was jou woorde ook
terwyl jy menthol sigarette rook
en daai sweet sweet dinge vir my se
terwyl jy sweet sweet in my arms le
en die presiese woorde het ek presies vergeet
ek onthou net die rook en die sweet in Beaufort-Wes
en jou kaal liggaam onder ‘n cool summer cotton dress
nie meer slaap nie, nie meer lag nie
nie meer iets vir mekaar doen nie
nooit ooit weer vir jou soen nie

En dis miskien soos ‘n storie uit die Huisgenoot,
maar jy’t een aand skielik vir my weggestoot
en in die rear view mirror jou gesig gekyk
en gese ‘miskien moet ek gelukkiger lyk’
daardie aand kon ek nie aan die slaap raak nie
en het gevoel hoe my hart losruk uit my lyf
en soos ‘n roeiboot in die rivier afdryf
ek kon nie meer slaap nie, nie meer lag nie,
nie meer iets ooit reg doen nie,
nooit ooit weer vir jou soen nie

En die laaste herinnering waaroor ek sing
is die nag toe ek en jy die melktrein aan en aan in die nag in ry
tot anderkant die ding dong gong
van die breakfast waiter in die gang verby
en dit was my wake-up call my lief
jy het gese wees asseblief lief vir my
maar ek het gedroom ons het in Beaufort-Wes gaan woon
en ek kon nie meer slaap nie, nie meer lag nie,
nie meer so iets doen nie,
nooit ooit weer vir jou soen nie

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