victor jara – canto libre (1970)

A verse is like a dove seeking a place to lay her eggs
It bursts out and spreads its wings, getting ready to fly away

My song is a song of freedom that I want to give away
(My song is a song of freedom)
To those who like shaking hands and to those willing to open fire
(My song is a song of freedom)

My song is like an endless chain
(My song is like an endless chain)
My song is like an endless chain without beginning and without end
In each one of its links you find the song of every man
Yes the song of every man

Let’s keep on singing together
Let’s sing to everyone on earth
(Let’s keep on singing together)
Since singing is like a dove who has yet a place to find,
It bursts out and spreads its wings to fly away

My song is a song of freedom…

“i’m inspired: i cannot understand hate”: ray chikapa phiri 1947-2017

sisgwenjazz

“Songs as truthful as a dream/flow as steady as a stream/A stream of knowledge and of pain…”

Ray oldIf any words summed up the work of Raymond Chikapa Enoch Phiri, who died of lung cancer on Wednesday, aged 70, in his birthplace, Nelspruit, it was those. They come from the 1986 song he co-wrote with the Ashley Subel: Whispers in the Deep (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy9QPjUkvvM) – a song that became one of the decade’s anthems of liberation, and lives still.

Phiri’s Malawi-born father, “Just Now” Phiri, was a guitarist, and that family history gives the lie to all the xenophobic myths that cringe before colonialist borders. Migrant workers just like ‘Just Now’ built the economy, and fattened capitalist profits with their sweat. But they also built South African culture and music through the sharing, swapping and inventing of ideas that took place in hostels, shebeens and backyards. The king of instruments…

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