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’