1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Qongqothwane (The Click Song) – Miriam Makeba

The Click Song – Miriam Makeba

The Click Song – Miriam Makeba

Cher tried to cover this. You know Cher of Sonny & Cher fame. Four Jacks & A Jill also covered it and so did Coleske. Amampondo have bashed it out on the maribas. There are a variety of covers if you ever want to trawl through Youtube, including one by a couple of bratish American girls going under the name The Soap Girl and one by a Glaswegian dude called Tom Urie.

But one always comes back to the most famous version, that by Miriam Makeba. Yes, Makeba took this traditional Xhosa song that is usually sung at weddings and made it her own. She wowed US audiences with her pure singing voice that has a certain innocence to it, but not only could she sing, she could also click. The early recordings of her singing this have a certain raw-ness to it that gives it an authenticity. Although it became a song that is indelibly linked to Makeba, her 2 Hot 100 hits in the US did not include her rendition of The Click Song (her hits were ‘Pata Pata’ which got to number 12 and ‘Malayisha’ which made number 85).

The song sounds pretty cool played on the marimba’s a la Amampondo style, but it lacks the clicks. Cher couldn’t click. Four Jacks & A Jill and Coleske had the advantage over Cher of being South African, and they do a pretty decent job of the song. Even The Soap Girls and Tom Urie don’t do too badly in getting their tongues round the song (although skip past the rather long intro on The Soap Girls version). But none of them click (sorry) with the song in the same way Miraim did. So, all together now, ‘Igqira lendlela ngu qongqothwane…’

Where to find it:
Various – Sound Offerings (From South Africa) (1998), Gallo, CDREDD623


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