This piece of music brings back such strong memories of my nightly drive to Southampton Hospital to see Harriet when she was very sick. I would always be in a rush to get out of the house and sometimes I wouldn’t have eaten because I didn’t have time. Once I even wrapped a piece of salmon in tin foil and put it on top of the car’s engine in the hope it would be cooked by the time I got to the hospital so at least I would have something to eat … it was partly cooked but I was so hungry I ate it anyway. Road sushi.
So back to BLACK AND BROWN CHERRIES – this crazy piece of music. I took such strength from it because it symbolised what was happening in our life at that time. The music starts in harmony and is quite pleasant to listen to, but then it slides into chaos. After a while, just when you think you’ve had enough of the racket, all the instruments come back into sync and everything is alright again. I would play it at full volume and, as there was nobody to see me, I would allow myself to cry. To weep. There is pathos in this piece, but it also gave me strength. It gave me the courage to believe that although everything was going so badly, after a while everything would be OK again. I just needed to be strong while chaos reigned. Soon there would be harmony again.
Abdullah Ibrahim’s BLACK AND BROWN CHERRIES will not be to everyone’s taste, but for me it is one of the most moving pieces of music I have ever heard. I have added a more palatable piece by the same musician below – it is called MANNENBERG and is, for me at least, a joyful and iconic piece of South African music.
BLACK AND BROWN CHERRIES: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UHuxyL0qrA
Some background on Abdullah Ibrahim and the significance of Mannenberg: http://www.kalamu.com/bol/2008/03/17/abdullah-ibrahim-“mannenberg-is-where-it’s-happening”/