Anton Goosen writes, still sings after 45 years as ‘Liedjieboer’


A young woman once asked Anton Goosen after a concert what advice he could give her about life. His answer was simple, one sentence that contained almost eight decades of life lessons: “Appreciate every breath, and be grateful for every day.”

He is aware of age, the 78-year-old musician tells RNews, but it doesn’t really stop him.

“Willie Nelson is 92, Keith Richards is my age and Bob Dylan is 83, and every single one of them is still performing. If you are 50, you are not old; if you are 70, you are not necessarily old. There are people who have climbed Kilimanjaro in their eighties.

“But somewhere a line is drawn. The only sure thing in life is death. Someone is born somewhere, someone is buried somewhere. It’s all part of life rolling on.”

He is aware of the aches and pains that are an unavoidable part of growing old, but he will not sit still.

“It doesn’t help if you sit and think ‘I’m old now and now I’m going to sit on the stoep’, then the process will happen very quickly.”

This is precisely why Anton, also known as South Africa’s own songwriter, released an album titled in June Circles going to reach out.

In 2019 he celebrated 40 years in the music industry, and today, five years later, it still gives him the same sense of excitement to release an album as that first one, Boy from the suburbsin 1979.

He has been on for two years Circles planed and sanded. Thorough research and follow-up are extremely important to him, and he does not want to sit with a red face over a questionable lyric.

“One of my first mentors always said that your song is as strong as the weakest link in the chain.”

Inspiration is a funny thing, he says, and it’s actually only a small part of his process as a songwriter. He gets many ideas, especially when he travels, then he records them on his mobile phone and solemnly promises to later turn the idea into a song. However, Anton confesses that it is easy to forget about those ideas and that they often lie and gather dust.

A few years ago, Anton was asked to set two of Antjie Krog’s poems to music for her 70th birthday, another full-circle moment for the musician.

He and Antjie were both born in Kroonstad; their mothers were best friends growing up. “It’s just something in the water,” jokes Anton.

Both songs appear on Circles, with “Stay by my (my love)” which was already released as a single last week. He confesses that he has set few poems to music in his life.

“A poem is a poem, but sometimes it overlaps with lyrics. This is the feeling I got about ‘Stay with me’.

“You often have that kick-start necessary. It’s easy to say that you’ll do it tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but creativity doesn’t just knock on your door one morning. You have to sit down at a table somewhere and continue working on your ideas, it doesn’t help that you just collect ideas.”

Anton lives in Gansbaai these days. Nothing rushes him. This is why this album took two years to see the light of day.

“Time is important. You have to have time to refine, to decide what should be on the album and what should be left behind.”

Circles is an album pure Anton. There are protest songs, rock music and ballads filled with anecdotes that Anton has collected over the years.

He does not call himself an artist; he never has either. He is a songwriter and singer. Still, he is sure of one thing: For every year that he now has a writer’s pen in hand, there is a fire burning in his heart to share music with people. That’s exactly what Circles is.

“When I listen to the radio in the morning or scroll through Facebook and see what’s going on, I know that this album is not in line with the music I hear.

“But then I realized – it had never been. I’ve never been.”

Although Anton has scaled back his performances a bit, and he certainly takes things more calmly these days, he is grateful for this phase of life in which he finds himself.

“You have to be grateful for the people who love you, and whom you love. That’s one great thing about age – your package becomes fuller and your circles fuller.

“When I was 17, I didn’t think about this stuff at all. I saw the mountain, wanted to climb it without thinking about the plants I trampled in the process. Now I look at it differently, at my loved ones differently.

“I never concerned myself too much with the idea of ​​a legacy. At least there are quite a few Afrikaans songs. As for the people around me: As long as those who knew me think that he was a good guy, the matter is right.”