1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Hey Mister”

In Solitary Confinement – Vusi Mahlasela

When You Come Back – Vusi Mahlasela

When You Come Back – Vusi Mahlasela

For all it being called ‘In Solitary Confinement’, this is a surprisingly upbeat song which starts with some spritely guitar playing and uplifting penny whistle before Vusi’s beautiful vocals kick in. This juxtaposition of the serious nature of the lyrics and a happy tune is not uncommon in music with The Smiths’ ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’ being one that I always cite (and did so in the review of Henry Ate’s ‘Hey Mister’).

In ‘In Solitary Confinement’ Vusi was singing from personal experience having been incarcerated and put in solitary himself. If my memory serves me correctly from when I was lucky enough to see Vusi perfom live, this song was written on toilet paper while he was in prison. It is a joyous romp of a song with the pennywhistle flitting around Vusi’s tight guitar work while his voice does its magic with the lyrics, caressing the pain of the words with its beauty until the desired effect of those wanting to inflict the pain is beaten into submission.

South Africa must be one of the few places in the world where the protest songs could sound joyful and beautiful but at the same time have biting, critical words and ‘In Solitary Confinement’ is a shining example of this. So lock youself up in your room and let Vusi’s magic set you free.

Where to find it:
When You Come Back – Vusi Mahlasela (1998) Shifty/BMG,CDSHIFT50

Video:

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Hey Mister – Henry Ate

Hey Mister – Henry Ate

Henry Ate - Slap In The Face

Henry Ate – Slap In The Face

‘Hey Mister’ was one of the early songs that attracted attention to Henry Ate and in particular the lovely voice of Karma-Ann Swanepoel. Taken from the band’s debut album ‘Slap In The Face’, the song was used in a film called ‘Sexy Girl’ and was a firm favourite at live shows.

The subject matter of the song is a little disturbing particularly the line “Mister I’m on the run pass the gun/For I think it’s ’bout time I blew my mind”.  This seriousness of lyric is offset by a cheerful tune in a similar manner to The Smith’s ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’ which is a jaunty song about a sad subject. However reading the rest of the lyrics of ‘Hey Mister’ it does seem to be a metaphorical gun that Karma is talking about, something that can trigger a change of experiences in life and seeing things from a different viewpoint.

The song not only showcases the pure sweetness of Karma’s voice and her ear for a catchy tune, it also showed a maturity in her song writing that was quite remarkable for someone in their early twenties.

Where to find it:
Slap In The Face – Henry Ate, Tic Tic Bang, (1996), BANGCD024

Video:
http://www.myspace.com/video/henry-ate/henry-ate-hey-mister/6999002

Lyrics:
Hey mister in that skirt could you be giving me directions
I’m trying to find a place where I would be guaranteed to lose my mind
By the looks of you, you’ve been there a few times
And in the morning we will exchange clothes
Pretend that we’re married, experience each other’s roles
Take what we can lie back relax, watch the sky evaporate
If I hallucinate we will call it escaping

For I think it’s ’bout time I blew my mind
No I, think it’s ’bout time I blew my mind
Hey

Hey mister don’t you know you have got quite nice legs
Try wearing something a little more suited to your sex
Maybe a suit something with less lace
And later we will go on to my place

Cause I’ve been driving so damn long
And God only knows where I thought I was going
Or coming from
Mister I’m on the run pass the gun

For I think it’s ’bout time I blew my mind
No I, think it’s ’bout time I blew my mind
Hey
No I

Hey mister in that skirt could you be giving me directions
I’m trying to find a place where I would be guaranteed to lose my mind
By the looks of you
Cause I’ve been driving so damn long
And God only knows where I thought I was going or coming from
Mister I’m on the run
Pass the gun, pass the gun, pass the gun, pass the gun

For I think it’s ’bout time I blew my mind
No I, think it’s ’bout time I blew my mind

(Written by Karma-Ann Swanepoel)

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