“Weeping”- An Anti-Apartheid Song Written By South African Songwriter, Dan Heymann

sowetoWe’ve just reviewed the new Bala Brothers cd on Warner Brothers records which showcases two of the most widely known anti-apartheid anthems.  Our last post shared the background of the song: “Something Inside So Strong”.  Here’s more about singer-songwriter, Dan Heymann and his powerful song: “Weeping” which appears on that same cd, but has also been covered by a host of artists both in South Africa and around the world.

Although it’s hard to find a great deal of information on the author of this song, we do know that Dan Heymann is a South African citizen who spoke out against apartheid and recorded a 1987 version of his song, “Weeping” with his band, Bright Blue.  That original version played on the radio in South Africa and included a refrain from the “illegal” anthem of the African National Congress.  Checking out Dan’s webpages, you can see he was actively involved with many artists, including Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Vusi Mahlasela, many of whom risked life and limb to express their desires for freedom and equality.  In 1999, readers of the South African Rock Encyclopedia voted “Weeping” the “All-time favorite South African Song”.

You can see two video versions of the song below.  The first is by popular American artist, Josh Groban, performing live on the David Letterman show.  The other is from Dan Heymann’s band, Bright Blue.


2008 – Josh Groban’s Performance of “Weeping” on the David Letterman Show

Bright Blue’s Version of “Weeping”

Lyrics – Weeping
Written by Dan Heymann/Copyright Bright Blue)

I knew a man who lived in fear 
It was huge, it was angry, it was drawing near


Behind his house, a secret place 
Was the shadow of the demon he could never face 


He built a wall of steel and flame and men with guns, to keep it tame 


Then standing back, he made it plain 


That the nightmare would never ever rise again


But the fear and the fire and the guns remain

It doesn’t matter now 


It’s over anyhow 


He tells the world that it’s sleeping 


But as the night came round 
I heard its lonely sound


It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping

And then one day the neighbors came


They were curious to know about the smoke and flame


They stood around outside the wall 


But of course there was nothing to be heard at all 


“My friends,” he said, “We’ve reached our goal 


The threat is under firm control 


As long as peace and order reign 
I’ll be damned if I can see a reason to explain”

What Does The Lyrics Mean?  

Although it’s easy to grasp the concept behind the song, the author explains the symbolism behind the lyrics in his own words:

“I’ve been asked many times about the symbolism in the Weeping lyrics, so maybe I should say something here. The man referred to in the Weeping lyrics is the late P. W. Botha, one of the last white leaders of South Africa before the end of the Apartheid regime; The demon he could never face (in the Weeping lyrics) refers to the aspirations of the oppressed majority, while the Weeping lyrics also refer to the neighbors, literally the journalists from other countries who were monitoring the situation in South Africa.”

Check out Dan’s webpages, resources and other songs which can be found at the links below.  He is an incredible writer with a wealth of talent as well as powerful songs and valuable cultural resources.

Resources

Dan Heymann’s Webpage for “Weeping”
http://www.weeping.info/index.html

Dan Heymann’s “Compressed History of Apartheid”
http://www.weeping.info/anti-apartheid-movement.html

Background of the Song: Something Inside So Strong

https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/something-inside-so-strong-a-powerful-anti-apartheid-song-and-much-more/

The Bala Brothers – New CD release on Warner Brothers Records
https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/do-you-know-the-bala-brothers/

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