Jammin’ Master Jack

Extracted from Wikipedia:

Master Jack is a song written by David Marks and performed by Four Jacks and a Jill. It reached #1 in South Africa and Canada, #3 on the US adult contemporary chart, and #18 on both the Billboard chart and in Australia in 1968.[1]  It also featured on the band’s 1968 album, Master Jack.[3] The song was produced by Ray Walter.

The lyrics assert the right of individuals to their own interpretation of the world as “Master Jack” presents it to them. Upon release they were widely taken as a criticism of pro-apartheid propaganda promulgated by the white minority ruling party.[4]  Another interpretation is this, as related by the band’s female vocalist, Glenys Lynne: “In certain mines the foreman is called ‘Master Jack’, and the song tells the story of a labourer who works diligently for this master for years and years and then decides to go out on his own and exercise his desires and aspirations as an individual to be something other than a labourer.”

Marks did indeed work on the goldmines around Johannesburg back in the Sixties. I “met” him recently when I wrote this story about musicians playing under apartheid, over the internet, and we’ve corresponded since. He kindly allowed me, my wife and my dogs to stay at his home on the South Coast over Christmas in 2020, and that’s when we jammed a bit on his stoep.

Four Jacks and a Jill reformed and started recording again in 2000, and have thus far released 31 CDs. They released Reflections in 2009 with a new version of Master Jack. The album’s concept is around South Africa and it’s mining industry; it has nine of David Marks’s songs and is dedicated to him.

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