1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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The Seagull’s Name Was Nelson – Des & Dawn Lindberg

The Seagull’s Name Was Nelson – Des & Dawn Lindberg

The Seagull’s Name Was Nelson - Des & Dawn Lindberg

The Seagull’s Name Was Nelson – Des & Dawn Lindberg

Des & Dawn Lindberg are an institution in South Africa. Not only have they have been around for along time, but they have been involved in the music business for longer thas they have been around (that’s because they used to be Des Lindberg and Dawn Silver). They have been banned (yes, ‘Folk On Trek’ was an undesirable item way back when) and panned, but are still well fanned.

Undoubtedly, ‘The Seagull…’ is their best known and best loved hit. Released in 1971 it tells the story of “a long time ago in ‘67” (4 years can be a long time in the music biz) when a small boy met a oil drenched seagull on the beach, cleaned him up and then released him. It is sung to an upbeat folk sound with whistlers a-whistling, guitars a-jangling and bongos a-bongo-ing. Des takes the main lead on the vocals but is joined by a healthy chorus (led by Dawn).

It all seems lovely and save the planet-ey, just what you’d expect from those hippy folkie folk of yore. But was there an underlying message in the song. Just across from the oily shore where the seagull was found was someone else named ‘Nelson’ who was wanting to be freed of the pollution of apartheid. Could the song possibly have been about him?  You decide while we all sing together, “And the seagull’s name was Nelson/Nelson who came from the sea/And the seagulls name was Nelson/Nelson The seagull free.”

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 1 (1994) GMP, CDGMPD 40485 (CD)
The Des & Dawn Collection – Des & Dawn (1994) Gallo, CDGMP40523

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One thought on “The Seagull’s Name Was Nelson – Des & Dawn Lindberg

  1. Pingback: Refugees: yesterday, today and tomorrow | Anne Samson - Historian

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