Blues For Louise | 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

From 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf by John Samson

Jan Skopgraaf - Piet Botha
Jan Skopgraaf – Piet Botha

The clue to how this song may sound is in the first word of the title. It’s blues through and through, right from the very first rasping guitar note, via the racing drums and swirling organ and through to the whiskey-rasp vocals, it never lets up its blues-ey feel.

The song first appeared on Piet Botha’s 1999 album ‘Jan Skopgraaf’ and it races along at pace. On the live version that can be found on the ‘Bootleg’ and ‘Tassenberg All Stars’ albums, Piet introduces the track by saying ‘hier’s ‘n ode aan ’n heks wat ons geken het’ (here’s an ode to a witch that we knew’) and there does seem to be a kind of devilish energy to the track that brings to mind a mad dance around a fire in the dark woods.

And the lyrics throw up sparks from the fire that haunt and enchant. Piet sings about Louise and how she was ‘nooit ‘n maklike meisie’ (never an easy woman) and that wherever he goes, ‘Loop ek met my bybel/En ‘n nine mil/En ‘n mes’ (I walk with a bible, a 9 mil and a knife), because he is scared of Louise, ‘banger as n’ pofadder’ (more scared [of her] than of a pofadder). This woman is bad news. And that’s good news for a blues track. A bad woman makes for good blues.

There are at least 2 live versions of the track out there. The first is the aforementioned one on ‘Bootleg’ and ‘Tassenberg Allstars’ while there is also a Jack Hammer version on ‘Live At The Nile’. The former is an acoustic version with more muted vocals and seems to soften Louise a little while the latter starts out with a heavier guitar and then launches into a ZZ Top-fest of guitars and brings that down and dirty feel to a Louise who is a cactus of a woman. Not for the faint hearted.

Where to find it:

Jan Skopgraaf – Piet Botha, (1999), Wildebeest Records, WILD 019


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