Anyone who was pointed to ‘The Best Of SA Pop Volume 1’ as an introduction to South African popular music, would have become aquainted with Gene Rockwell and his ‘Heart’ by the time they hit the second track. With its heartbeat bass line underpinning the whole track, you can identify with the song from the very start. A heartbeat is what keeps us alive, so that sound is always a comfort to hear.
But Gene is not feeling comfortable as his yearning vocals soon elaboarate that the song is about unrequited love. Released in 1965, the emotion in Gene’s voice tugs at the heartstrings, dragging you into his world of despair. And that is perhaps what made the song so popular as most people have experienced the pain and anguish of unrequited love. Gene captures that feeling and bottles it into this 3 minutes of 60’s pop perfection. You are taken with him on his journey of despair and wrapped up in the emotions. Yet the whole time the heartbeat is there, subtly bringing comfort and as the song begins to fade, Gene tells his heart that ‘we will find somebody new’.
Gene would be one of the most successful local acts on the Springbok Charts, seeing 10 hits make the top 20, however, ‘Heart’ was not one of them. The only thing I can put this down to is that the song must have been released early in 1965 and the charts only started in the June of that year, otherwise I am sure it would have done well on the top 20.
Where to find it:
The Best of SA Pop Volume 1, Various Artists, (1994), GMP, CDGMPD 40485 (CD)