1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Toe Vind Ek Jou – Francois van Coke & Karen Zoid

Francois van Coke & Karen Zoid

Francois van Coke & Karen Zoid

This is what it has all been about. Anton Goosen’s ‘Bloemetjie Gedenk Aan Jou’, Bernoldus Niemand, Koos Kombuis, Johannes Kerkorrel and the whole Voelvry movement, the blues guys like Valiant Swart, Piet Botha and Die Blues Broers, Arno Carstens and the Springbok Nude Girls, Afrikaans punk from Fokofpolsiekar. All of these guys were building up to this one perfect Afrikaans song.

‘Toe Vind Ek Jou’ is undoubtedly the best Afrikaans song I have heard. It has everything, atmosphere, emotion, a great tune, brilliant vocals and harmonising. It is no wonder that at the time of writing this, the Youtube video had already had over 4.6 million views and spawned numerous cover versions (the Varsity Sing version is one of the better ones). In comparison Bok van Blerk’s ‘De La Rey’ which was also hugely popular and which has been around a lot longer only has 1.6 million views. I had sort of got to thinking that there were no surprises left in the Afrikaans music world but ‘Toe Vind Ek Jou’ proved me wrong I’m pleased to say.

This song with its almost understated soft drumming highlights the talents of 2 leading lights of South African music. Francois van Coke found his way to this song via the noise of Fokofpolisiekar and the heavy rock of van Coke Kartel while Karen Zoid has been ploughing her own furrow as our foremost ‘rock chick’ for a good while now. And while ‘Toe Vind Ek Jou’ is essentially a ballad, there is a feeling of a tension underlying the vocals and the lyrics hint that this relationship was not always a bed of roses. The first line ‘Ek lê my wapens neer’ (‘I lay down my arms’) introduces the surrender of the couple to their love which has survived a stormy relationship and as they have matured the anger of youth has dwindled and they are left clinging to each other. Possibly the best moment in the song is when Francois and Karen sing the lines ‘Ek het genoeg gegee, Ek het genoeg geskree, Ek het lankal terug geleer’ the second time around when Karen’s higher pitched voice goes head to head with Francois’ gravelly one and the result is something quite beautiful.

There are no pretensions in this song but plenty of control. Zoid and van Coke could have been tempted to make this just another Afrikaans rock song, but somehow they turned it into something special.

I have gone back to wondering if there will now be no further surprises coming from the Afrikaans music scene in South Africa, but I’m a little less certain of myself this time round.

Where to find it:
Francois van Coke – Francis van Coke (2015)

Video:

Varsity sing version:

Fokofpolisiekar – Fokofpolisiekar

Fokofpolisiekar

Fokofpolisiekar

Sometimes one can take a joke too far and Fokofpolisiekar took the joke of forming a band with a deliberately offensive name to the heights of the SA music scene and went on to spawn bands like Van Coke Kartel, aKing and Die Heuwels Fantasties as well as inspiring acts such as Jack Parrow and Die Antwoord.

They first came to prominence through the song with the same name as the band which is a thrashy, adrenaline fuelled piece of punk. Full of energy, roaring guitars and maniacal drums, there is something more to it than just noise – there is a tune in there, and a soaring sing-a-long chorus, things which a lot of punk bands tend to ignore as they endeavour to make a noise. And it is this fine balance between noise and tune that makes this song work.

Aside from that, the thing which set this apart from just about every other punk band on the planet was that these guys sang in Afrikaans. We had had the revolution from innocent sweet music to Afrikaans rock through guys like Anton Goosen, Koos Kombuis et al, and there had been a Afrikaans blues movement with Valiant Swart, Piet Botha and that crowd, but I think even with this hardening of the Afrikaans music sound, few could ever imagine Afrikaans punk working. But it does and with this, one of the very first songs of the genre, it could not have got off to a better start. There is anger, nose, tune and controversy all rolled into just over two and a half minutes of brilliance. In the 70s we all loved Squad Cars (a Springbok radio programme for those too young to remember), but in in the early 2000s we moved on and told those polisiekars where to go.

Where to find it:
Fokofpolisiekar 10 Year Anniversary – Fokofpolisiekar (2012), Rhythm Records

Hear here:
https://myspace.com/fokofpolisiekarband/music/album/fokofpolisiekar-10-year-anniversary-18961052

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