Friday Night Music

From a musician’s perspective, the South Africa of my youth — that would be White South Africa — was very similar to the southern states of Murka, in that they loved  country music.  Demographically, White South Africa outside the cities was largely rural in character, and I think that other than cowboy hats and stitched boots, those people had more in common with the American South than, say, New Yorkers of the Manhattan persuasion.

So we had a lot  of country music in our repertoire when not playing in and around Johannesburg — and sometimes even then.  Here’s a sample:

Mr. Bojangles — Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (killed two birds with one stone by playing this song:  country, and  a waltz)

If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body — Bellamy Brothers (cheesy as hell — but man, people loved this song, as they did the next one)

Kiss You All Over — Exile (note: for the time — mid-1970s — the lyrics for this and the previous song were unbelievably suggestive.  Sometimes I still miss that innocence.)

Lying Eyes — Eagles (I know, some would say the Eagles weren’t a country band;  I would suggest that before Joe Walsh joined them, they were.  Another crowd-pleaser, this one:  I think we performed it every time we played outside a club.)

Sunday Morning Coming Down — Kris Kristofferson (and by the way, our guitarist Martin had a MUCH better voice than Kristofferson:  pure velvet)

It’s A Heartache — Bonnie Tyler (I know, she’s a Brit;  but the song is pure Nashville.  And I used to sing it, because I could — and still can — do that raspy-voice thing like Rod Stewart and Joe Cocker.)

Stranger In My House — Ronnie Milsap (his version is a little too  country;  we hardened it up into a rock song.  By the way:  I saw Milsap live after I came over to the U.S., and to this day I think he’s the greatest percussive pianist ever.)

Love Is In The Air — John Paul Young (everyone in the band hated this thing — and everyone in the audience loved  it.  Talk about selling out…)

Next week:  old-time rock ‘n roll.


  1. More fond memories. I wasn’t (and am not) a real country fan, but many of my military friends were and these songs provided part of the soundtrack of those days to me. To absent companions…

  2. Kommiestofferson was an army pilot in the 101st Airborne, stationed at Ft Campbell, about an hour’s drive from Johnny Cash’s lakeside home in Hendersonville. Kommie had been sending demos of Sunday Morning to Cash for some time but his manager had been intercepting the mail and not passing it along. Frustrated with never receiving any response, Kommie commandeered an army ‘copter (not hard to do in those days) and flew to Hendersonville, landing in Cash’s compound. In all the hubbub that followed, Cash and Kommie met, Cash learned about the missing demos and when he listened to them, their partnership was born.

    Kommiestofferson, if you didn’t know, decorates his area of the music studio with tributes to Che Guevara and Noam Chomsky during recording sessions.

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