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THE ATTRACTION TO NURSERY RHYMES CONTRIBUTES TO JAMAICAN POPULAR MUSIC!

Phenomenon contributes big to Jamaican popular music

Much has been said about Jamaica’s early popular music and the different scenarios that played out to impact its sensationalism and popularity.

There are stories about friendly musical wars, music and politics, the glorifying and denouncing of rude boys, slackness, unsung heroes, and the contribution made by artistes whose origins lie outside of Jamaican shores.

The interesting phenomenon of Jamaican nursery rhymes, proverbs and parabolic phrases included in the lyrics of early Jamaican popular music, has not only served to sensationalise it, but has helped to bring Jamaica’s rich tradition of parables and proverbs into full focus.

Such lyrics and their relevant recordings have helped to reflect a wide range of issues thrown up by a society in transition.

The transition may well have begun shortly after Independence, with, what was then called, ‘the rudeboy syndrome’.

The Wailers w/Beverley Kelso

The Wailers, which at the time consisted of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Junior Brathwaite and Beverley Kelso, had perhaps the sternest warning for the rude boys in their early 1964 ska hit, Simmer Down. Laced with nursery rhyme lyrics, it advised them, thus:

Chicken merry, hawk de near,

and when him de near you must

beware,

so simmer down, control your

temper.

This, however, was in direct contrast to their later recordings of, Let Him GoRudeboy, and Jailhouse, which supported the rudeboys with lyrics like, ‘baton sticks get shorter, rudies get taller’, and ‘remember he is strong, and he will live long, so let him go.’

Eric ‘Monty’ Morris, Prince Buster, Desmond Dekker, Sugar Minott and mento lyricist, Everard Williams, were some of the others who leaned heavily on nursery rhymes to reinforce the lyrics of their recordings.

In 1961, Morris recorded for Producer Prince Buster, the very popular Humpty Dumpty.

Morris also recorded other nursery rhyme tunes that included, In And Out The Window, and Oil In My LampKeep It Burning.

Ole King Cole

Lincoln ‘Sugar’ Minott, used the same nursery rhyme to demonstrate the calamity that could befall those who trusted in vanity, in a mid-1970s recording, titled Vanity (ole King Cole).

Riding of the rhythm of Alton Ellis’ I’m Just A Guy, he warned the vane that:

It will let you down, and you’ll

be on the ground,

like Humpty Dumpty who sat

upon a wall.

All of his friends and the money

they spend

couldn’t get Humpty together

again.

Minott also recorded the very catchy, nursery rhyme song, This Ole Man, for Studio One, about the same time.

Desmond Dekker & The Aces

Desmond Dekker also utilised the method in some of his recordings, one of which ran: ‘Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly, long run short ketch’, from the recording, Mother Young Gal, while the Wailers warned against greed in the early 1967 Rocksteady piece, titled Bus Them Shut, with ‘Brother piyaka, cut down piyakaism, everything you run down, come we go reason now’.

Peter Tosh also had a lesson about ungrateful persons – ‘sorry fe maga dog, maga dog tun round bite you, jump outa frying pan, you bound fe jump inna fire’, on his 1970 recording, Maga Dog.

broyal_2008@yahoo.com

 

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