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Martha: the lyrics, and why the hard parts had to stay in

I find this song really hard to play to people for the first time, there’s so much goodness in it, and then suddenly it gets so heavy.

I spent ages trying to figure out if it was the right thing to do, to release a song like this. It’s a trick. It lures you into a false sense of security and then hits you in the guts with the dark side of the story. But I just couldn’t bring myself to edit out the hard bits, cause that’s all of us right? There’s good parts and hard parts. Parts of the story that are easy to share and parts that take a bit of time to tell.

I love a Hollywood ending as much as anyone else, but I want the truth more than I want a a cold hard glossy version of life. And if I ask that from other people how could I not give it to you Martha? So the hard parts had to stay in, as painful and uncomfortable as they are.


Words and music by Tina Boonstra

Have I told you about Martha?

You would talk for hours if you met her

I used to see her every Tuesday

Walking to the park for the fresh air

She sitting on her bench in the sunshine,

Taking in the bird and the flowers

She's all alone but she don’t mind, no she don’t mind.

She’s always telling me

Keep your head up, keep your head up girl, this is a mad, mad world

You think you’ve seen it all, but let me tell you’ve seen nothing

So don’t go hiding what’s inside it was made for something

Sometimes I walk down to meet her

Listen to her stories from ward seven

40 years is a long time

Her working hands are vintage brown leather

She laughs ‘till she cries about fat Tom

Proposing three times in his nightgown

And the day that she left Knysna with sister

What a bittersweet feeling to leave home

One day she looks at me softly

Tears filling up her golden brown eyes

'It’s three years today I lost her

My sister, my heart oh the light of my life’

‘My dad he worked with his brothers

On Mondays they’d play cards in the kitchen

Talking and drinking with each other

And after they’d take turns on my sister.

I watched her cry through the keyhole, and every Tuesday I would beg her to leave home

She’d never listen, she’d just hold me close and say, ‘One day you’ll understand that I could never go’

So keep your head up, and you promise me that when this is over you and me are gonna really live’

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