Weeping, first recorded by South African band Bright Blue

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Picture: Gideon Mendel

Bright Blue was a rock-'n-roll band, formed in Cape Town, South Africa, in mid-1983.

The musical influences that made Bright Blue distinctive were American rock and funk, early-eighties British New Wave, and a unique, extremely dance-able South African gospel style called 'mbaqanga";
The combination of these sounds made Bright Blue extremely popular for live, "club" appearances.

Three of the founder members of Bright Blue were former high-school-mates:
Keyboard-player Dan Heymann and the Cohen brothers (bassist Ian and drummer Peter) had jammed together as teenagers, and had kept in touch during their University years.
With old friend Tom Fox on guitar, and front-man Robin Levetan, the initial line-up of Bright Blue was complete.

South Africa was in the grip of the oppressive Apartheid government at the time, and Bright Blue incorporated an anti-Apartheid motif in many of their lyrics.

Months of live gigs around Cape Town made Bright Blue a "hot ticket" around Cape Town during the holiday season at the end of 1983,
and in early 1984, Bright Blue spent a few months performing around Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city, and hub of the local music business, trying to attract interest from the record-companies.
A deal with Trutone Records wasn't long in coming, and Bright Blue headed into the studio to record their first album, "Bright Blue".

Unfortunately for Bright Blue, at this point the Apartheid regime intervened;
No sooner was the "Bright Blue" album released, than two band-members, Ian Cohen and Dan Heymann, were drafted into the military for two years.
With no band to promote the album, sales of "Bright Blue" were disappointing, and the Trutone deal was allowed to expire after two years.

Meanwhile, it was in the army that Dan Heymann expressed his unhappiness towards the regime by writing first the music, and later the lyrics, of "Weeping".

After discharge from the South African Defence Force, Bright Blue, re-united in Cape Town, took the decision to move permanently to Johannesburg, in order to be closer to the action.
Unfortunately, front-man Robin Levetan was unable to make the move, and left Bright Blue, his position at the microphone being filled by Ian and Tom.

Early in 1987, the move took place, and a few months later, Bright Blue, now without any recording-contract, spent a night in a small recording-studio, laying down two songs, which they had pressed as a "forty-five" and sent to various radio-stations.
On the flip-side was "Weeping", which Bright Blue recorded with a brief instrumental echo of "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika", at that time the anthem of the African National Congress, and therefore "banned" under the laws of Apartheid.
In the event, the official censors didn't react, and the DJ's picked-up on "Weeping";
It spent two weeks at number one on the government-owned Radio Five.

Within months, Bright Blue was offered a fresh recording-contract, this time with EMI, and the result was the album "The Rising Tide". But Bright Blue was losing momentum, and soon drummer Peter Cohen left to join another band. Despite performing with a few temporary drummers, Bright Blue wound down during 1990, the year Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and negotiations began for democratic majority rule in South Africa.

There are people around the world who still have have fond memories of dancing outdoors by the sea at Bright Blue gigs during that unforgettable season at the end of 1983.

Click here for "Weeping" Homepage

Weeping , written by Dan Heymann (sometimes mis-spelled as Dan Heyman ), is a famous protest song that emerged from the South African anti Apartheid movement during the mid-1980's, and this song of freedom has been recorded by many artists, including noted South African band Bright Blue and, more recently, Josh Groban , in a collaboration with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Vusi Mahlasela , who has previously released a solo recording of this song of protest . The anti Apartheid lyrics Weeping contains are among the most-recorded freedom song lyrics of any protest song to have come out of South Africa. The Weeping song (rights to which are partially controlled by Muffled Music ) led to a February, 2006, encounter between singer Josh Groban and songwriter Dan Heymann (occasionally mis-spelled as Heyman ) at New York City's Sony Studios, a legendary institution which has given many a song freedom to soar. It was a thrill for Dan to hear his anti Apartheid song being recorded by such a high-caliber team. Having been a musician in contact with various anti-Apartheid movements during the Freedom-Struggle in South Africa, when examining the Weeping lyrics , Dan was thrilled to feel the connection of his lyric to protest song tradition. When the time came to add backing vocals, nobody needed to teach Vusi Mahlasela lyrics to the Weeping song , having already performed it live so many times, and this new rendition of Dan's familiar rhyming- lyric protest song should give the song freedom to reach many new listeners. Many protest songs were inspired by the anti Apartheid movement and Dan is proud that his freedom song has been so well-received, particularly when there are already so many wonderful anti-Apartheid protest song lyrics in existence.