1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Lisa se Klavier”

Onder In My Whiskeyglas – Koos Kombuis

Niemandsland - Koos Kombuis

Niemandsland – Koos Kombuis

Is it just me, or is it rather strange that a song called ‘Onder In My Whiskeyglas’ (At the bottom of my whiskey glass) appears on an album called ‘Die Mooiste Love Songs’ (the most beautiful love songs)? The question one has to ask is whether it is a the love affair with the whiskey, or is it with the person the singer is seemingly trying to forget by drinking?

The answer seems to be a bit of both. Undoubtedly, the lyrics tell of a lost love and how the image of the lost love cannot be shaken. Her face appears in his whiskey as he drinks. Yet the sadness and hint of slurring in Koos’ voice point towards a soul turing to the amber liquid for comfort and love. This tale is told to the backdrop of a sombrely pucked guitar, adding to the despair the singer feels. There is a bittersweet image in the line ‘Drie skepe moes my wegvoer/ Na lande vêr van hier’ (Three ships had to take me away/to lands far from here) with the ‘Drie Skepe’ being a reference to Three Ships whiskey.

Koos Kombuis is a master at painting a picture in his songs. One can just picture the scene in songs like ‘Lisa Se Klavier’ where Koos sings about the boemelaars standing outside the window listening to Lisa play piano. Similarly, ‘Onder In My Whiskeyglas’ counjures up an image of a dishevelled and broken man sitting on a barstool in a dingy pub staring into an empty whiskeyglas, perhaps a tear running down a cheek. This is aural painting at its best.

Where to find it:
Die Mooiste Love Songs (1999) Wildebeest Records, WILD014


Ek Wil Net Huis Toe Gaan – Koos Kombuis & David Kramer

Langpad Na Lekkersing - Koos Kombuis

Langpad Na Lekkersing – Koos Kombuis

Is there some rule written somewhere that if you record a phenomenally good Afrikaans song then the video has to involve a lot of lights all over the place as the 2 best Afrikaans songs I have ever heard – Francois van Coke & Karen Zoid’s ‘Toe Vind Ek Jou’ and Koos Kombuis & David Kramer’s ‘Ek Wil Net Huis Toe Gaan’ – both had a light motif going on in the videos.

It also seems that teaming up with someone else helps create brilliant songs as in 2015 the relative new comers to the music scene, van Coke & Zoid, showed the way and then the 2 legends, Kombuis and Kramer, said, well if the lighties can do it, so can we.

‘Ek Wil Net Huis Toe Gaan’ is an extremely beautiful song that talks of a longing to return home, although as both the artists on the track are getting on in years, it could also just be talking about retiring (please don’t guys, but if you do we’ll understand). ‘Ek is so moeg van die stress/ek is nou oud en bles/Nou will ek ophou werk en my das uittrek/ek wil net huis toe gaan’ tells of Kombuis’ tiredness and the gently plucked guitar set against a muted organ sound seems to echo the state of mind of the singers. Their rock ‘n’ roll days are over and the only rocking they want to do is on the chair on the front veranda.

Neither Kombuis not Kramer could be said to have the greatest singing voices, but the almost whispered vocals from Kombuis and the somewhat gravelly baritone of Kramer weave themselves within the magic of this track perfectly. If these 2 legends bow out of the music business with this, it would be an extremely high note on which to do so. They have been leading lights in the Afrikaans music scene for a number of decades now. Perhaps only Kombuis’ ‘Lisa Klavier’ and Kramer’s ‘Prisoners Of War’ could challenge for the title of the most beautiful tracks by these artists, but, in my opinion, this one take the honours.

Where to find it:
Langpad na Lekkersing – Koos Kombuis (2016), Select Music Distribution, KKCD10


Lisa Se Klavier – The Parlotones

Unplugged - Parlotones

Unplugged – Parlotones

Comparing The Parlotones version of ‘Lisa Se Klavier’ to Koos Kombuis’ is a bit like comparing the piano playing of Richard Clayderman to that of Jerry Lee Lewis. Now, I can already see you have one foot in the stirrup of you high horse and are getting ready to blast off a riposte that Koos Kombuis is nothing like Richard Clayderman, so let me explain. I am not saying that Koos did a boring, bland version, I am just trying to highlight the difference between Koos’ quiet, gentle and highly moving version and the ‘Tones racing, bouncing one.

There will also be those who say that The Parlotones have destroyed the song by speeding it up and making it rock and you are welcome to be like that if you want. However, if you want to live a little and break out of the mould and see things from a different angle, then follow me down this review. The rest of you go back to your bland old covers of this song and marvel at how much like the original they sound.

If you’re still with me then let’s us take a tumbling, foot-tapping Afrikaans-sung-with-an-English-accent roll through the song. Replete with ‘da-da-da-da-da-da’s’ and (heaven help us!) drums and (gulp!) rock guitars. The ‘Tones throw in a bit of klavier and some organ for good measure (although renaming it ‘Lisa se Organ’ would not be a good idea). They have taken a great tune, given it a great injection of rock, scared off the sissy’s who can’t bear to hear their sacred cow being taken for a run round the meadow, and produced an interesting cover of a classic. This is their own version of it and they did it their way. Enjoy it.

Okay, you can let those worshiping at the shrine of Koos back into the room now.

Where to find it:
Unplugged – The Parlotones (2008), Sovereign, SOVCD 036


Lisa se Klavier – Koos Kombuis

Lisa se Klavier – Koos Kombuis (Do tramps really dream of piano playing women?)

Koos Kombuis (real name André le Roux du Toit) was one of the leading
figures of the Voëlvry tour that brought alternative Afrikaans music
to the masses in South Africa. There was a lot of anger at the
apartheid government running through the tour and the lyrics of the
songs associated with it were often vitriolic. From these beginnings
one would be excused from being surprised that Koos could pen and
record a song of such beauty, however, with hindsight, we now know
what a talent Koos is.

Affectionately known as the Bard of Gordon’s Bay, he took a simple
scene of sitting in a woman friend’s front room, listening to her play
the piano and turned it into a song that is as magical as the piano
playing he described in the lyrics. The song starts with an almost
spoken refrain over a simple acoustic guitar and piano, then builds to
the gorgeous, soaring chorus of ‘En die hele wêreld word stil, en
luister in die donker uur, na die nag geluide van Lisa se klavier.’
When listening to this rousing song, you can imagine the whole world
stopping to listen to Koos’ ‘Lisa se Klavier’ as it fills the room
with something so special that it commands your attention. Koos’ album
‘Elke Boomelaar Se Droom’ took its title from the line in Lisa se
Klavier where, the beauty of her music, turns Lisa into ‘elke
boomerlaar se droom’.

Just about every wannabe alt.afrikaans artist has at one point picked
up a guitar and sung this song and a screeds of cover versions of
varying quality exist, including  the interesting ‘Reggae Lisa’ by
Wouter van de Venter and an English version by Clint & Co.
‘Lisa se Klavier’ has become one of the most popular Afrikaans tunes of all time and
deserves a listen (if you haven’t already heard it).

Where to find it:

1989 piano version with James Phillips:
Niemandsland And Beyond! (1989)

1994 violin version:
Elke Boemelaar se Droom (1994) GMP, CDGMP40452

Koos says he can’t remember the violinist’s first name. “I know his surname, though.” says Koos. “He is a Vermaak. His older brother, who is better known to me, is Chris, who later became producer of my CD ‘Madiba Bay’. A very talented family.”

1998 acoustic version with Leila Groenewald:
5FM TDK SA Music Explosion – The Radio Sessions Vol. 1

2000 live version with Albert Frost:
Blou Kombuis (Live) (2000)

2009 version with Lize Beekman:
Koos Kombuis (2009)

Cover Versions (selected):

  • The Parlotones
  • Dozi
  • Symphonia
  • Wouter van Deventer (as Reggae Lisa)
  • Clint & Co (as Lisa’s Piano)
  • Wasserfall
  • Q-Zoo (QKumba Zoo)
  • Laurika Rauch
  • Wessel van Rensburg and McCoy Mrubata
  • Jacques de Coning (medley with Die Stem)


Ek het ‘n vriendin ver by die blou see
Teen die hang van Tafelberg, as die son sak, speel sy die mooiste melodiëe
Haar vingers ken die pad opgesluit in wit en swart
Die klavier se grootste vreugde, hartseer en verlange, verstaan die
hart se diepste smart

Koortjie: (x2)
Ja, die hele wereld word stil, en luister in die donker uur
Na die naggeluide van Lisa se Klavier

En Lisa kannie ophou as sy eers begin het nie,
En sy laat my nooit huistoe loop of afskeid neem voor my laaste sigaret nie
Ek staan op haar balkon, ek drink haar appelkoostee
Kyk uit na Kaapstad in die nag, die liggies, en die swart, swart see

Koortjie (x2)

En onder op die sypaadjie, sien ek die bergie en sy maat
staan op en opkyk ver na bo, vannuit die vullis van Oranjestraat
Hul ken al lank die klanke wat uit haar woonstel stroom
Lank na twaalf, met die deure oop, al moan die bure ookal hoe,
Word Lisa elke boemelaar se droom


(Woorde en Musiek: Koos Kombuis)

© Koos Kombuis Published by Shifty Music / Trapsuutjies Uitgewers



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