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biko


composer
Words and music: Peter Gabriel


publisher
© 1989 Peter Gabriel Limited
© Real World Music Ltd. (Post 2013 credit)


background
Originally written by Peter Gabriel, Biko was about Steven Biko, a South African anit-apartheid activist, and member of the Black Consciousness Movement. "Steven Biko was a brave man. Through his student activism and the founding of the Black Consciousness Movement, he was unafraid to make known his beliefs and to lead the struggle for his people. His formidable intelligence, charisma and warmth inspired most of those who witnessed them. During his trial, observers from many countries were fascinated to watch him run rings around the prosecution with his logic, passion and wit. Many people believed he would have become a great international statesman, a leader for africa and for young people all over the world." - Peter Gabriel - Street Fighting Years book.

"When in 1977 he was arrested, as he had been before, most people assumed that there had been sufficient international media attention to protect him. It was a real shock to hear that he had died in jail along with so many others in 'mysterious circumstances.'" - Peter Gabriel - Street Fighting Years book.

Simple Minds planned to play the song as part of their set for the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute, with Gabriel singing lead vocals. "When Jim asked me about playing it on Mandela Day, I was pleased. I wanted it to be hard by such a large audience who would be focusing their attention on what was going on in South Africa and I knew that I would not be able to get my own band assembled. I was a little nervous as I had had no time for rehearsal. But when I stood up on the stage, surrounded by all those familiar faces, the song began, and I felt the strength of their arrangement and their commitment. It is a moment I will not forget." - Peter Gabriel - Street Fighting Years book.

The band decided to record a cover for the album "When Simple Minds do a cover version, at least we do Street Hassle or Biko. A song doesn't belong to anyone. As soon as you let someone hear a song, you've given it to them, as far as I'm concerned - to whistle or to play or to record, if they want. We told Peter our plans to record this and he was very encouraging. - Jim Kerr - Street Fighting Years book.

It wasn't the only cover version being considered as they also jammed Sun City during the album's sessions. Early monitor mixes of both tracks were recorded on the 26th July 1988 at Sarm.

"Biko we did because we loved the track, and we loved Peter Gabriel, and we hated apartheid. We'd worked with Amnesty International and that informed what was going on." - Charlie - Street Fighting Years Super Deluxe

"We all thought it sounded good when Jim sang it. He couldn't reach the pitch Gabriel sang it in, so he sang it in a sort of low, monotone voice and that gave it a completely different atmosphere." - Mick MacNeil - Street Fighting Years book.

The song was the bonus track on the Ballad Of The Streets EP, appearing all formats except the 7". It was also the original closing song on Street Fighting Years, before When Spirits Rise was hurriedly recorded and added to the running order.

It was then played live during the Street Fighting Years Tour where the arrangement matched the studio recording and Gabriel's original version.


lyrics
September '77.
Port Elizabeth weather fine.
It was business as usual.
In police room 619.

Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko.
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko.
Hiromija, Hiromija.
The man is dead, the man is dead.

When I try to sleep at night.
I can only dream in red.
The outside world is black and white,
With only one colour dead.

Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko.
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko.
Hiromija, Hiromija.
The man is dead, the man is dead.

You can blow out a candle.
But you can never blow out a fire.
Once the flames begin to catch.
The wind will blow it higher.

Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko.
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko.
Hiromija, Hiromija.
The man is dead, the man is dead.

And the eyes of the world are watching you now.
They're watching you now, watching you now.
Watching you now, watching you now.
They're watching you now.
You gotta waken up, you gotta face up.
I think you gotta open up.

The eyes of the world are watching you now.
You gotta waken up, you gotta face up.
You know you can never turn away.
Never turn away.



discography
Album Version (7:32)
Produced by: Stephen Lipson and Trevor Horn
Engineers: Heff Moraes, Robin Hancock
Assistant Engineers: Danton Supple, Martin Plant

Ballad Of The Streets EP 12" Promo Ballad Of The Streets EP MC Ballad Of The Streets EP 12" Ballad Of The Streets EP CD Ballad Of The Streets EP Limited Edition Box Ballad Of The Streets German CD Promo</A>
<A HREF=Ballad Of The Streets EP German 12" Ballad Of The Streets EP German CD Street Fighting Years Promo MC Box Set Street Fighting Years Promo CD Box Set Street Fighting Years LP Street Fighting Years MC Street Fighting Years CD Street Fighting Years US Promo MC Street Fighting Years Limited Edition MC Box Set Street Fighting Years Limited Edition CD Box Set Street Fighting Years Picture CD Themes Volume Four Theme Sixteen: The Ballad Of The Streets CD Theme Sixteen: The Ballad Of The Streets MC Street Fighting Years MiniDisc Street Fighting Years Reissue CD Simple Minds Box Set The Best Of Simple Minds CD2 Promo The Best Of US Promo The Best Of The Best Of SACD The Best Of Night Of The Proms Special Remastered Edition Street Fighting Years Remaster Promo CD Street Fighting Years Remaster Limited Edition CD Street Fighting Years Remaster CD Live And Rare Italian CD The Platinum Collection CD Gift Pack CD Limited Edition Gift Pack DVD Limited Edition Themes 15-17 Promo CDR Themes Volume One - Five The Best Of Donna Moderna cover CD Five Album Set Celebrate: The Greatest Hits + Promo CD Celebrate: The Greatest Hits + 3CD Classic Album Selection Street Fighting Years 2020 Reissue LP Street Fighting Years 2020 Reissue CD Street Fighting Years 2020 Deluxe 2CD Street Fighting Years 2020 Super Deluxe 4CD

Live Version (15th September 1989) (9:43)
Recorded: Verona, Italy
Producer: Stephen Lipson

Street Fighting Years 2020 Super Deluxe 4CD




live history
Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute : 1988
Street Fighting Years Tour: 1989