1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Going Away – David Kramer

David Kramer

David Kramer

‘Baboondogs’ is one of Kramer’s less popular albums but is one of his more critically acclaimed. Apart from containing his marvellous ‘Dry Wine’, there is also this little gem called ‘Going Away’ which ironically is more about staying than leaving.

Written at a time of huge upheaval in the country with the State of Emergency in place, the violence that beset the country and the very uncertain future for white South Africans, many people contemplated leaving the country in what was known then as ‘the chicken run’. There is no judgement from Kramer of those who chose to leave. He understands why people wanted to leave, but he knows what he will do, the words ‘As for me, I don’t think that I’ll be leaving/I belong here, I’ll be staying where I was born/These people are my people/These places are my places’ he sings, making it clear.

Most of ‘Baboondogs’ shows the serious side of Kramer. His hits were the ones that were carefree and about more trivial issues. Songs such as ‘Hak Hom Blokkies’, ‘Meissie Sonder Sokkies’ and ‘Die Royal Hotel’ while often having a line or two in the lyrics for those looking for deeper meaning, ‘Going Away’ and the rest of the ‘Baboondogs’ songs don’t have any of the frivolity that those hits had. ‘Going Away’ also features that rare thing, a saxophone on a David Kramer song. It is understandable why ‘Baboondogs’ was not as commercially successful as some of his other albums, but it is also completely understandable why it is one of his most critically acclaimed albums with tracks like this and ‘Dry Wine’ it finds the red veldtskoened one at his lyrical best.

Where to find it:
Vinyl – Baboondogs – David Kramer (1986), EMI, EMCJ(V)4051001

Video:

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Dry Wine – David Kramer

Dry Wine – David Kramer

Baboondogs

Baboondogs

‘Dry Wine’ was finally released by Kramer on his 1986 album ‘Baboondogs’, but the song goes back to about ten years previously. According to the 3rd Ear Music website, Roger Lucey was given a demo cassette of Kramer songs sometime in 1976 or 1977 and this included the song ‘Dry Wine’. Despite agreeing that it was an excellent song, Lucey was reluctant to perform it. Not because he was concerned about getting into trouble with the law due it the nature of the lyrics (he was already doing that, so one more wouldn’t matter), but he preferred to only perform his own material. However, he began performing ‘Dry Wine’ and it was included on his live album ‘Half A Live’ which was recorded at the Market Theatre in 1979.

Due to the political nature of Lucey’s work, he was not a well known musician, so ‘Dry Wine’ was only heard by a select few. However, once Kramer’s career took off with the success of ‘Hak Hom Blokkies’, more people got to hear this gem. It is a song about the disparities that existed in South Africa during apartheid and how those that were rich enough to afford to be liberal, would express their opinions about the situation from the safety of fine restaurants, high fences and locked doors and “from the distance of headlines”.

Lyrically it is quite a vitriolic attack, but Kramer’s performance shows more sadness than anger. If you want the angry version, check out Lucey’s one. Kramer was an astute observer of South African life and culture, both the good and bad sides of it. ‘Dry Wine’ is Kramer at his lyrical best.

Where to find it:
Vinyl – Baboondogs – David Kramer (1986), EMI, EMCJ(V)4051001

The Roger Lucey Connection:
http://www.3rdearmusic.com/lyrics/drywine.html

Roger Lucey Video:

Lyrics:

Half asleep I dream in the dark
Trusting the locks on the door
And the dog’s warning bark
Outside in the street a drunkard
Stumbles and sings
In the next door flat
A telephone rings and rings
But nothing disturbs the suburbs quiet
Not the sirens or the news of a township riot
Knowing it all from the distance of headlines
I express my opinion
With a mouthful of dry wine

A woman with red fingernails
Is playing with her diamond
Gazing through the restaurant window
At the lights on Robben Island
Her hair’s cut in the latest style
Her eyes are painted blue
She’s probably thinking
Now where in the world
Could I find a better view
Her husband asks the waiter
Are these prawns from Mozambique?
The waiter just nods his head
He smiles but doesn’t speak
Knowing it all from the distance of headlines
I express my opinion
With a mouthful of dry wine

An old lady in a Sea Point flat
Lives with her dreams and dread
She can hear the disco music
As she lies in her bed
And in the servants quarters
She can hear them laugh and sing
While in the next door flat
A telephone rings and rings
Perhaps I’m like a deaf man
Who has seen the lightning flash
Or maybe I’m just like the blind
And I’ll only hear it crash
Knowing it all from the distance of headlines
I express my opinion
With a mouthful of dry wine

(Written by David Kramer)

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