1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list


There’s a lot of them about – albums, songs, films, places, books, paintings, even golf holes. What am I talking about? Well, lists that’s what. Not only are there lots of lists out there, but there are a lot of lists that suggest (or perhaps command) you listen to, read, see or play 1,001 of the items listed. Why 1,001? Why not a straight 1,000, or if you’re feeling random 1,023 or 978. I guess it has something to do with the way ‘a thousand and one’ rolls off the tongue.

‘Why so many?’ you may well ask. My answer would be that for people who are fanatical about the things in question, 1,001 is probably not enough and this is borne out by the fact that the edition of the book 1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, actually contains as an added bonus an ‘index’ style list of the 10,001 songs you must hear before you die (some of those listed there are included in my list)

A lot of lists exist as to the greatest songs of all times, most of them only giving 100 entries and invariably these lists tend to draw from the same pool of songs. By extending the list to 1,001 (or even 10,001) it opens one up to a lot more music that you had never heard before, and, if the list is any good, it will be quality music.

Over the next however long it takes me, I will be listing what I think are the 1,001 South African songs you must hear before you go deaf. Why? Because I want to. (You don’t have to read this, you know). And why ‘before you go deaf’ and not before you die? The answer to this is (a) to avoid any copyright issues and (b) we all know what makes you go deaf (no not that silly, it’s listening to your iPod too loud).

South Africa, the Rainbow Nation, has a rich diversity of people and with this comes a wide variety of styles of music. We have pop, rock, metal, kwaito, blues, Afrikana, reggae, umbaqanga, township jive, grunge, folk, zef and a host of other compartments to keep the pigeonholeologists in work for the next 1,001 years. The fact that often a song may straddle a number of different genres, brings further career opportunities to the aforementioned ologists.

I freely admit that the songs chosen to be on this list are (a) my opinion and (b) limited to what I have actually heard. I’ll be interested to hear what other people believe should be included in such a list, provided each suggestion is accompanied by a large sum of money in unmarked notes, and an even larger sum of money if any suggestions are made in an abusive manner. (Hey, I’ll have to pay a shrink to deal with people rejecting my opinions in favour of theirs).

There will be no particular order to the list as I haven’t actually finalised that yet, so I will just start with a few dead certs while pruning those 35 extra tracks that have made my 1,036 songs list so far. Another reason is I really can’t decide if David Kramer’s ‘Hak Hom Blokkies’ should be number 142 or 849, so decided to avoid tough choices altogether.

I don’t know how regularly I will update this blog, but aim to try and get a blurb about a new song up every week (I make no promises though).

– John Samson, May 2011

10 thoughts on “Introduction

  1. Simon on said:

    John, this a fantastic collation. A combo of memories, discoveries and education for a music tragic who grew up on listening to so much of this, left the SA shores quite a few years ago but embraces the influences of my youth. Thank you!!!

  2. John, I love your list, but I would definitely want to see “Captain” from Southern Gypsey Queen too.

  3. That Guy on said:

    AWESOME SAUCE! it would be nicer if you added links to listen to these tunes.
    May I suggest, maybe http://tutaudio.su or even redmp.su ?
    Its funny how I can listen to almost any south african music on russian sites but not locally.

  4. Francois on said:

    Nice idea.
    You could also ask for titles from subscribers.
    I’m sure there will be a few that was forgotten over the years.

    Hillbrow, man on the moon, the Spaniard, the buceneer etc.

  5. Lekker Stuff, John Samson! Looking forward to the rest!

  6. Deodato on said:

    Came here as a fan of The Clegg looking to expand my knowledge of SA music, looks like I will be perusing this list for a while. Excellent project!

  7. What an amazing spot to visit for an expat like me. Thanks so much!

  8. Lindsay Ross on said:

    BRILLIANT . Was looking for Mick and now. I found him :)

  9. Muriel Fortune on said:

    I discovered your site by pure luck – just heard Gypsy Girl on the radio and wondered where David Scoby was and what he is doing…he does not even have a Wikipedia page…scrolled down and clicked on your site – I love it! I fully get why you did not “rank” the songs…I love too many to even pick my favourite – it would be impossible!

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