Story

All of these songs were written in South Africa, some in the early 90’s, but most between 2001 and 2003. However, these songs seem to reach beyond the South African context and are really about human rights generally, about the suffering of the poor, and the politically oppressed. How do we deal with this injustice, and how does it confront our conscience?

Blue Chilli

Story

Handful of Dust is an omen, a feeling of some threatening storms waiting to unfold, against  which we have to brace ourselves. (1989)

Lyrics

Take care not to let the summer slip by

Without a handful of dust

Because the storms are lurking beneath the blue skies 

And we need to be strong with trust

Blue Chilli

Story

Trembling Dust was written shortly after September 11th. It is dedicated not only to the thousands of families and friends in New York who lost their loved ones but also to hundreds of thousands of people and their families who have died in the Gulf War. (2001)

Lyrics

How can the wind still blow

How can the sun just rise

How can the wind just blow 

As if nothing changed, nothing occurred?

How can the waves still roll

How can the rains just fall

How can the waves still roll

When our vision is so painful and blurred?

  Our children’s tomorrow

         Burdened and sorrowed

        Evaporates beneath the trembling dust


 

In our desparation not to sit but to do

 We scrub all the frail fragments we can find

 Shake them as kaleidoscopes against the neon light

 Untangle good from evil in the night

And we hush the monsters in our souls to sleep

And out of sight

 

What is peace, where is safety, 

Where is peace, what is safety

The bubble of the promised life has burst


Behind each single crack in our brass-framed mirror glass

Haunt a million eyes of the poor and oppressed

We the rich and powerful, the bunkered middle class

We need to put our conscience to the test

Let’s not be tempted to invent some badies 

And shoot them down East

What is life when there is war

What is war when there is life

And no one can now say they’ve escaped

Blue Chilli

Story

Whatever Happened to the Water closely followed Trembling Dust. During the Gulf War ideological battles were often polarised: ‘Might is Right’ versus ‘Right is Might’.   (2001)

Lyrics

The trend of the world all along 

Is that might is right

Those who are born to be strong

They grow, protect and fight

And decide who may stand in the light

Or did we get it wrong? 


Strength comes to those from above

Who seek the light Divine

Righteousness is stronger than love

Being right is the true might

Which justifies and sanctions the fight

Or did we get it wrong?

     

Whatever happened to the water

That gently washed away the rock

 Whatever happened to compassion

To let others be without fear or mock

 

The world is caught in a twirl

It seems a play of fools

The aim of the game is fake-blurred

Some pawns invent the rules

And the kings spiral into the cruels

Deluded by right and wrong

What is right and wrong?

 

Those lucky and safe, who can say

Now feel the terror quake 

While those desperate and poor anyway

Face the unbearable stakes

All are victims of the Might-Right debate

All suffering must be wrong

Blue Chilli

Story

Waiting is dedicated to the people suffering from AIDS, many of whom had very little chance of receiving anti-retroviral drugs in South Africa at that time. It reflects the senselessness, the futile waiting. It is  dedicated to the many thousands of AIDS orphans.  (2002)

Lyrics

I took an early taxi to the city hospital

The pain in my chest won’t go away

My legs are so heavy, my feet are so slow

And my baby will be born one of these days

I waited and waited and waited

And then the sister said “The clinic is closed for today”

I took an early taxi to the city hospital

My baby will be born one of these days

 

My baby was born, so quiet and small

The doctor did some tests and was gone

When he finally came back

He looked at me tall and said “Your baby has illness in her bones”

I waited and waited and waited

And then the doctor said “Let’s discuss what can be done”

My baby was born, so quiet and small 

But she has illness in her bones.

 

I’ve been back to the clinic many times

Sometimes I’m lucky and I get seen on that day

They told me that there’s a good medicine

But it’s hard to get, and I’d have to wait

So I waited and waited and waited

But each time they said “the medicine is not for avail”

I’ve been back to the clinic many times

But they said I would just have to wait


My dear sweetheart, his breath grew too weak

We put him to rest the other day

I can’t get up anymore, the air is too thin

And my baby’s face is hot as clay

I wait and wait, there’s lead on my eyes

And my baby my sweet little one, she has AIDS

Oh what will become of my sweet little one

When I’m no longer waiting but gone

Blue Chilli

Story

Bottomless Eyes was inspired by a story of a woman in Mount Frere, a poor rural South African community, who went to search the rotting rubbish dumps for food every day in order to feed her children. Moreover, she tried to leave very early in the morning before her children wake up so that she did not have to look into their desperate eyes. (2001)

Lyrics

Wide, wide, the sea is wide

Maybe shelter and food are on the other side

Hush now baby please hush now 

The hunger is eating you inside out

But please, hush now baby please hush

Early next morning I will be gone  

To flee from your bottomless eyes


Long, long, the night is long

When will the dark be void of all wrong

Hush now baby please hush now

The fever is shaking your thin little bones

But please, hush now baby please hush

Early next morning I will be gone 

To flee from your bottomless eyes


Far, far, the road is far

To the endless end of dust and tar

Hush now baby please hush now

My body can’t shield you from the cold cutting wind

But please, hush now baby please hush

Early next morning I will be gone 

To flee from your bottomless eyes

 

Tall, tall, the sky is tall

It should be our hope, but hope is too small

Hush now baby please hush now

Your brothers and sisters all look at me empty

With bottomless eyes

Blue Chilli

Story

There is a surreal, almost schizophrenic feeling in a breathtakingly beautiful country like South Africa: luscious suburbs with swimming pools under bougainvilleas, sandy beaches and exclusive boutiques; and starving people suffering  just few kilometres further, living in atrocious slums. At the time of this song a petrol warden at the corner garage had just been shot because he insisted that the customer should pay. And life continued as sunny and bright as if nothing has happened, and people continue to wine and dine... (2003)

Lyrics

Sitting on a dark stinkwood chair

Looking over the sparkling bay 

Sipping a glass of chilled rosé

Waiting to be served from the buffet

The waiter puts on his outside smile

And serves herbed muscles for hors d’oeuvre

Soft music mingles with delicious smells

As steaming porcelain plates are served

Not far away

Down in the parking lot

A man walks without shoes

The wind is hard, the tar is hot

As he searches the bins for food

 

Wondering about New York and Afghanistan

Talking about how people met

Laughing at a couple of lightening jokes

Pardon me, refresh with au toilette 

Touching up the mirror reflection

Looking confident, relaxed and pleased

And ordering espresso without sugar

After chocolate mousse and blue cheese

Blue Chilli

Story

Sowing the wind is about the hunger for power and was inspired by conversations around  this topic. (1991)

Lyrics

You who have power

You who are men

Deciding what’s ours 

Whilst starving for fame

You who determine 

How we should live

You’re sowing the wind 

And pollute what you give


You who make laws

You who are men

You who use force

While you nobly pretend

That your personal gains

Are salvation to all

You’re sowing the wind

And you build up the walls

 

You who must lead

You who are men

With bottomless greed 

You’re competing  to win

With sly twists and turns 

And a knife in your back

You’re sowing the wind 

In your ruthless attack

 

You with ambition

You who are men

You make decisions

About war and peace games

With one empty word 

You destroy and deform

You’re sowing the wind

And we reap the storm

Blue Chilli

Story

This song is based on South African Struggle literature, a story called More grim fairy tales, written by E.V. Stone in 1958. (1990)

Lyrics

Deep in the forest once lived Hyena 

And Hyena was crafty and wise

One day whilst roaming he seized a young lion 

For a servant and a hunting device

 

Hyena trained Lion in obedient submission 

And it proved to be an excellent idea

Lion killed the meals, and Hyena ate them 

Saving Lion from indigestion fear

 

If Lion had ideas about who was who 

He was reminded of Hyena’s sacrifice

And Lion’s good fortune and means of digestion 

Due to his Master being caring and wise

 

Though puzzled Lion thought that’s how it must be 

Until one day he overheard Hyena’s wife

She said, is it right that you treat Lion so badly 

Chain him down with bananas as diet

 

But Hyena replied, you don’t know Lion like I do 

Give him an inch, and he’ll take an ell

The stricter one is the less he’ll be dangerous

For he needs to be treated this way

In fact he wants to be treated this way


Lion began to think that Hyenas were nasty 

But this turned out to be quite untrue

For Lion discovered the taste of Hyena 

So much nicer than bananas and fruit

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