26 Sep 2013 Comments 6


Web 2.0 Attention-Deficit Summary for the Reading-Impaired:

Shembe – demo – bass notes – Churchill – mantra – marimba - salvation



‘Waiting To Be Rescued’ is a mantra, a litany of potential saviours, and a very tongue-in-cheek appeal to all the various things I have at one time or another put my hope for salvation in. Not all of the people, of course; I’ve never taken Shembe seriously (I’m a ‘white’ South African), I can’t vote for Obama, Winston Churchill is no more etc. If anything, this is just a jittery caffeine-induced stroll down the list of people and things I’ve spent quality time with.


As with the creation of “Bush Telegraph”, this song did not start life as a ‘song’ in the ‘carefully-crafted’ sense. It was just a groove, those two double-bass notes and the incessant repetition of that 3-note melody, as well as the tag line of “I am waiting to be rescued”, that all appeared in my head at once. I took a little time to list all the things to throw into the lyric (I had help from a friend who suggested Austen and Dickens), and it was done. Safe to say it arrived fully formed, and I just captured it as it flew past.


The trick for me was how little the song needed, not how much. Getting out of the way of a song is a skill that takes years to develop, and this was a good exercise in ‘the less the better’. That’s why so little happens, really, and when it finally does, it’s gone before you know it.


Most of what I demo’d at home as I wrote it ended up on the final version you now know and love so well. Brent and I pulled up the session in his studio and began replacing things with ‘real’ or ‘better’ performances, and the song started losing its very odd personality. So we took the decision to just leave it alone.



There’s no guitar on this song. I love that. There’s also marimba, a traditional hand-held African instrument that I’ve never used before, as well as an awkward ungainly shaker made from bamboo I bought in the Caribbean in 2004. My friend, who suggested Austen and Dickens, also agreed (reluctantly) to sing the refrain, and it’s the first time I’ve had a female voice on one of my songs. Overall, as with the whole recording session for the “Bush Telegraph” ep, some odd, non-obvious choices, which is so liberating.


Strangely enough, this is one of my most favourite songs I’ve ever written.


The list?

Jesus. Shembe (a self-styled Zulu prophet). Obama. Zuma. JuJu (short for Julius Malema, a self-styled political prophet). Cape Town (better than Durban?). Berlin (better than South Africa?). Filters ( Camel). Jameson’s. Jager. Churchill. Sony. Rough Trade (the label, not the practice thereof…). Dickens. Austen. Zulu. Xhosa. Etc…

If any of these things could actually make my life a little easier/better, I’d like to know.




Until then, I’m still waiting.



But ultimately, we have to rescue ourselves. Right?



Thanks for reading the "Bush Telegraph" blog. That's it. Five songs, five blogs. If you've enjoyed, please leave a comment.




Listen to "Waiting To Be Rescued" here:


Buy "Waiting To be Rescued" on the "Bush Telegraph" EP here:


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  • Berlin

    We will never be able to rescue ourselves. Not sure what Jesus you are singing about, but the One I know changed my life completely. For millions of this generation to believe they need to see that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. The evidence of Jesus is ives changed. Not sure where you've been hanging out, but where I go I see the lame walk, blind see, HIV/Cancer healed, robbers/addicts rehabilitated, many people including me and my wife delivered from demons, poor people fed, communities helped, the power of the Holy Ghost basically. The Jesus I've come to know is a Jesus with power!

    October 02, 2013 at 14:36pm - Comment
  • Diane Antunes

    I remember the first time I heard you and your former band sing. The godly impression I got from you that day sticks with me still. After your set, the three of you were signing CD's and as I approached you, you held out your hand to me and I assumed you wanted the CD to sign, but you looked at me and slowly shook your head and pointed towards my hand, you wanted to shake my hand and meet me first...I was a new Christian at the time, became "born again" about two years prior when my daughter, Rebecca, was diagnosed with brain cancer. The encounter with you did not take more than a couple of minutes but I was so impressed that an artist like you would think of taking the time to really connect with me. I became a big fan of you that day my friend and continue to pray for you. Your music with Tree has profoundly affected my life and journey with Jesus and I simply wanted you to know that, even if you are still waiting for salvation, you have had a great impact on mine. Your godly character that day convinced me that I am truly never alone and that Jesus will continue to surround me with good people who will lift up my spirits even when they are not aware of what they are doing. Thank you for all your previous lyrics and tunes...I pray God will continue to draw you home.

    October 13, 2013 at 05:36am - Comment
  • Clay Cook

    Hi John,

    Just read about you on Wikipedia and although my mom sent me some Tree63 albums, a few years back, I did not know much about you. But seeing who your father is, I remember you/your mom lending me a drum kit for a youth group praise and worship in Durban North around 1987. It was so appreciated. I remember unpacking the kit from your mom's car, parked under one of your dads posters gave us all a chuckle.

    I have walked a rocky road since, I worked for a Christian music label and radio station in Pretoria and things that happened their made me think that if some of these people call themselves Christians, then there is not much in it for me.

    It set me back a long way but God stayed with me despite my questions, my sins and my selfishness.

    Life is never perfect and I am sure you have wrestled with this many times, but the simple thing to me is that been a Christian and honouring God makes me a better person on the inside. It takes away my anger, my lack of confidence, my failings in life and it wraps me up in love and gives me acceptance. It gives me the strength to keep fighting and to believe that one day something will go right in my life.

    Truth is, it already has.

    I don't mean to preach at you, just say that God has used you to be a blessing in so many lives and that includes me. I just wanted to say thank you and in return I pray that you will find your salvation and not judge Gods love for you on the actions of Christians you have met along the road you have travelled.


    October 20, 2013 at 23:36pm - Comment
  • rentia
    Jesus I stand for you

    November 04, 2013 at 20:35pm - Comment
  • Justine

    Write the music to Davids Psalms.

    January 27, 2014 at 21:45pm - Comment
  • Justine

    The Lord has prompted me to pray for you - for over a year now. He needs you John.

    January 27, 2014 at 21:47pm - Comment