13 February 2006

Monday's mp3: Love Songs from Vusi & Vera

Heartache. Really, more than "romance," heartache is the defining characteristic of love. Heartache from the hope that you've found someone, or the fear that you've lost someone. Heartache from waiting for someone. Heartache from just being so full of love you think you'll explode.

Everyone sings love songs. For this week's offering, though, something special is in order. Voices that aren't just beautiful, they have a visceral impact, like the memory of a lover.


Two voices that came to mind are Vera Bila and Vusi Mahlasela. Vusi's on my mind because I had the opportunity to interview him last Friday (hear interview). The South African poet/singer/musician has an astounding voice, and this song highlights it as he sings about the need for love songs even amid the violence of a nation in upheaval. "Should I stop singing about love / Now that my memory is surrounded by blood / Sister, why oh why do we at time mistake a pimple for a cancer / So who are they who say no more love poems now?"

Bohemian singer Vera Bila has an amazingly distinct voice, and most frequently sings about Gypsy life, culture, and hardship amid a disapproving dominant culture. "Chaje, Chaje" translates as "My girl, my girl," and is a song about longing and distance. "My girl, my girl / Don't cry for me / I don't want you to wait two years / Till I come back."

Exquisite heartache.

[mp3] Vusi Mahlasela: "Red Song"
more Vusi
[mp3] Vera Bila & Kale: "Chaje, Chaje"
more Vera

More listening:
[mp3] Interview with Vusi Mahlasela on Spin the Globe
[mp3] Full 2-hour Spin the Globe radio show from 10 February 2006
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