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Posted by: In: Other 02 Mar 2022 Comments: 0


390-Harry Belafonte-Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)

1957-Number 2 single.

Best Bit-At 2.34. This genre of music is known as ‘Mento,’ it is a style of Jamaican Folk Music that predates, and has greatly influenced Ska and Reggae music.

Harry Belafonte was born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr. on March 1st, 1927, in New York City, United States, he is a singer, songwriter, Actor, and Activist. He was sent to live with his grandmother in Jamaica at the age of five in 1932, but returned to New York in 1940, after leaving high school he joined the Navy and served during World War 2.Belafonte began his music career as a club performer in New York singing Pop music, but he would later develop an interest in Folk music. He has released 30 studio Albums, and eight live Albums between 1954-1997, he has also issued 19 singles, the first in 1953, and the last in 1988, a full 20 years after his previous one. In the UK he has achieved seven top 40 singles with his 1956 cover of ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ reaching Number 1. Aside from his singing career Belafonte has acted in many films, and appeared in several documentaries. Belafonte has also been politically active, being greatly inspired by the singer Paul Robeson,(see also best songs 82) who mentored him. Belefonte supported the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950’s, and 1960’s, and was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s confidants.

‘Day-O (The Banana Boat Song’) is a traditional Jamaican Folk song, probably sung by Jamaican banana workers, and probably created around the start of the 20th Century. The song tells the story of dock workers who would work throughout the night loading bananas on to ships. As daylight approaches they await the arrival of the ‘Tallyman’ who will take inventory so they can go home.

The first official recording of the song was in 1952 by the Trinidadian singer Edric Connor, (1913-1968) it was on his version that Harry Belafonte based his recording. In 1955 the American singer/songwriters Lord Burgess (1924-2019) and William Attaway (1911-1986) wrote a version of the lyrics for the television variety programme ‘The Colgate Comedy Hour’ in which the song was performed by Harry Belafonte. When the song was released as a single Belafonte’s name was added to the writing credits along with Burgess and Attaway. The song has become Belafonte’s signature, and appears on his 1956 third studio Album ‘Calypso,’ which can boast being the first ever Album to sell over one million copies.

‘Day-o-day-o, daylight come and we want to go home. Work all night on a drink of rum, stack banana ’til the morning come.’