‘Man On The Moon’ was the second local song to top the Springbok Top 20 in the 80’s (after Joy’s ‘Paradise Road’). The single week that it spent at 1 seems to belie the impact the song had, and still has on the local music scene as it would easily make any list of the best South African songs of all time. It is a high quality song which has become a classic.
For a song about the moon, it is slightly ironic that it is a very atmospheric track. The insistent beat, the understated synthesizers, the cosmic ‘shooting star’ sounds and echo-ey harmonised vocals are all wrapped up in a velvet-ness of a dark silky sound. Even when they let the electric guitar loose, it has an extra-terrestrial feel to it that leaves you floating in space. And throughout the song is the ache and pain of a man torn between two loves and imploring the man on the moon to help him choose. Of course ‘the man on the moon’ is renown for being non-existent and this adds to despair of the singer in that he knows his condition is so helpless that he has to appeal to the non-existent for help.
In 2007 a cover of the track by Springbok Nude Girls’ Arno Carstens appeared on a CD called ‘The Covers’ and his version is faithful to the original, albeit somewhat heavier in sound, it maintains the out of this worldliness of the original. It updates the song for a new millennium but does not eclipse the original. It is fitting that the Ballyhoo version would appear on their ‘greatest hits’ CD called ‘Defining Moments’ as when it was released, it was a defining moment in South African music history. It raised the bar for all the acts that followed in the 80’s. ‘Man On The Moon’ is as timeless as the moon itself.
Where to find it:
Defining Moments – Ballyhoo (2006), Select Musiek, BHPCD2010