Monday, July 23, 2007

Monday Morning You Look So Fine: James Phillips.

Oppikoppi approaching... I have itchy feet. Thinking of new perspectives, and South African tunes... James Phillips, in particular. The image above (of Vusi Mahlasela) ties together a lot of ideas and references... it was made last year at Oppikoppi, and it was a shot that had me running to show John Hogg... it is very similar to a shot of John's from years ago, what is for me an iconic image of James, at Oppikoppi, nogal.

Anyway, for the connection... there is a song by James that is often misread, but is one of the most beautiful (and heartfelt) pieces of South African music I have ever heard. I was lucky enough to see Vusi perform it in 2000, with Chris Letcher on keys, for a James Phillips tribute in Oppikoppi Worcester...a place I also didn't get to meet John Hogg, as I felt like a tool seeing as I was wearing a bootleg James t-shirt I had made with one of John's photos of James, from the cover of Soul Ou. Fast forward 7 years, and John and I are at Oppikoppi Easter, sunset in the bar, talking about our kids, Grand Funk Railroad and pipe bands.

Anyway... here are the lyrics to one of the most haunting songs James ever wrote, and one that few can do as much justice to as Vusi: Afrika Is Dying.

'Afrika is dying,
Yes, the place is such a mess,
And no-one gives a heck it's getting frightening.
Oh, if you're listening baby,
You'd better run as fast as you can,
Because she's dying,
And no-one gives a damn.

(West?) man, as he goes where he wants,
And he does what he likes,
And he takes what he can.
He's running with the devil,
And he's running with the cash,
And now she's dying,
And no-one gives a damn...

Hear her crying.

Afrika is dying,
There's a noose around her neck,
And no-one gives a heck,
It's slowly tightening.
If you're listening baby,
You'd better run as fast as you can,
Because she's dying,
And no-one gives a damn.

Hear her crying.' - James Phillips

Damn. Updates at the bottom of this.

Later.

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