Some great songs seem destined to live in the shadow of another offering from the same artist where one captures the public imagination to such an extent that it almost precludes listening to the other. For example ‘Taximan’ seems to play second fiddle to éVoid’s ‘Shadows’ and Clout’s ‘Save Me’ gets less attention than ‘Substitute’. To that list add Bright Blue’s ‘The Rising Tide’ which will always be overlooked in favour of ‘Weeping’.
Yes, ‘The Rising Tide’ is not as dramatic as ‘Weeping’ preferring to float on a cushion of laidbackness rather than loom large as its big brother does. However, just because it sounds more ‘on the beach’ than ‘in the city’ does not mean it didn’t have as serious a political message. While ‘Weeping’ took on the whole of apartheid and expounded on the senselessness of it, ‘The Rising Tide’ concentrates on a specifically ‘white’ issue, but which had ramifications for the blacks in the country too as it tackles the subject of conscription. (For any non-South Africans reading this, under aparthead white males were conscripted to serve in the South African Defense Force for a period of up to 2 years).
The song references David Bruce in the line ‘David, now that your eyes don’t shine anymore’. Bruce was one of the first to object to conscription on a purely political basis. Conscientious objection (i.e. that based on religious grounds) had been going on for years, but here was a guy prepared to face 6 years imprisonment (solitary confinement if the rumours were true) for his political beliefs. ‘The Rising Tide’ is an anthem of solidarity with David and the 22 others who took a stand against what the government of the day were doing. It is a beautifully crafted song which oozes a real sense of caring, not only about the issue of conscription, but also for the fate of those who objected.
So while not a big picture song like ‘Weeping’, this is still worthy of a listen every now and then reminding us of some of the specifics, while doing so, dare I say it, with a catchier tune.
Where to find it:
Every Now And Then – The Best So Far… 1984-2001 (2001) Universal