Sunday, February 7, 2010
Down the way where the nights are gay
And the sun shines daily on the mountain top
I took a trip on a sailing ship
And when I reached Jamaica I made a stop
But I'm sad to say, I'm on my way
Won't be back for many a day
My heart is down, my head is turning around
I had to leave a little girl in Kingston town
Sounds of laughter everywhere
And the dancing girls swaying to and fro
I must declare that my heart is there
Though I've been from Maine to Mexico
Down at the market you can hear
Ladies cry out while on their head they bear
Ackie rice and salt fish is nice
And the rum is good any time of year
"Jamaica Farewell" is a famous calypso about the beauties of the West Indian Islands often believed to be called "Kingston Town" due to its mention in the lyrics.
The lyrics for the song were written by Lord Burgess (Irving Burgie). Lord Burgess was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926. His mother was from Barbados and his father was from Virginia. The song first appeared on Harry Belafonte's phenomenally successful album Calypso. It reached number fourteen on Billboard's Pop chart.
Though many, including Belafonte himself, have said that the song was popular in the West Indies since long before Burgess, it is believed that Burgess compiled and modified the song from many folk pieces to make a new song, and it is indubitable that it was Belafonte who popularised the song outside the Caribbean Islands. Burgess acknowledged his use of the tune of another calypso, "Iron Bar".
Other well-known singers of "Jamaica Farewell" include Sir Lancelot, Jimmy Buffett, Sam Cooke, Nina & Frederik, Pat Rolle and Carly Simon.
The term "ackee rice" found in the lyrics refers to the fruit of a tropical tree indigenous to the Ivory Coast and Gold Coast of West Africa; taken to Jamaica in 1793. It has some poisonous properties, yet if properly prepared the fruit is often used as a food additive.
This song has been translated into many languages. For example, in Bangla, there exist several translations, some of which are quite well-known. One Bengali version of the song became an important anthem for the Naxalite revolutionary movement in the 1970s and thus has significance for Bengali intellectuals in Kolkata society.
In his album "My Son the Folk Singer," Allan Sherman included a parody of the song: "I'm upside down, my head is turning around, because I gotta sell the house in Levittown!"
This song was featured in Rabbids Go Home at numerous parts of the game.