1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Saturday Night – John Oakley-Smith

Matinees On Saturdays - John Oakley-Smith

Matinees On Saturdays – John Oakley-Smith

Looking at what I have planned as songs to include in the list I notice I only have 2 John Oakley-Smith tracks. The previous one was ‘God Keep The People (Who Stay Awake At Night)‘. To this I have now added ‘Saturday Night’. I could really have gone for every single track on Oakley-Smith’s marvellous ‘Matinees On Saturdays’ album which still remains criminally unavailable on CD or to download.

Oakley-Smith had a knack of encapsulating people in short vignettes that look at life and how we live it. ‘Saturday Night’ is a prime example of this. He takes that moment in the weekend where you are the furthest away from work. You have just managed to shake off the babbalas from the Friday night jol and haven’t yet eased in to the lazy melancholy of a Sunday which always has Monday hanging over it like the Sword of Damocles.

This piano driven track seems to be in a rush as it dances along on a light-footed tune. And that is apt because, as we all know, time travels at twice the speed of comfort over the weekend. Oakley-Smith’s pure, Nick Drake type vocals bounce lightly across the surface of the song. But it’s not all the bed of roses the light touch of the music suggest. The characters in the song sit on the park benches and smoke as evening draws near, but ‘Even the dogs bark louder on a Saturday night’. These characters then lose themselves in the hotel bars and as they head home they are mugged. Not as pleasant a picture as the music suggests.

But the people make it home and head out to work on Monday with the thought ‘You could lose your mind if it was not for Saturday night’. This slight positive note closes the just over 2 minute song which leaves you wondering what it was you just heard. Was this a gentle tribute to one of the best times in the week, or is it a commentary on the sadness about the drudgery of life for many who turn to alcohol and live with violence, barely surviving.

This is a beautifully unsettling song which lures you in, unsettles you, yet leaves you feeling strangely uplifted but curious and wanting to go back and listen to it again and again.

Where to find it:
If you’re lucky you may find a vinyl copy of his brilliant LP ‘Matinees On Sundays’ at a second hand shop. The song’s on that.

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2 thoughts on “Saturday Night – John Oakley-Smith

  1. I used to watch him down at the Market cafe. Still treasure my copy of his album. I heard that he moved to America & wrote several movie soundtracks

  2. Sadly John was tragically killed on his farm in Zimbabwe on 11 January 2021. This was a very sad loss.

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