Sweet and dandy

A remake of “The Harder They Come” is scheduled to hit the big screen in the summer of 2012.

The 1972 classic film featured Jimmy Cliff in the story of Ivanhoe Martin, a poor Jamaican who becomes a reggae singer and discovers the only way he can get a hit record is by signing away the rights to his recordings. He turns to a life of crime and violence. The character is based on Rhyging, a real-life Jamaican outlaw and folk hero of the 1940s who is often referred to as the original rudeboy.

At the time, reggae had begun to redefine itself as a symbol of rebellion and the struggle to survive against a backdrop of crime, violence and post-colonial neglect. The soundtrack to the film is considered to have been a huge breakthrough for the musical genre. It features one of my favourite songs of all time – ‘Sweet and Dandy’ by Toots and the Maytals. Here’s the clip from the original film:

At his best, Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert composed some of the most evocative, lyrical and exhilarating music of the 60s and 70s. ‘Sweet and Dandy’ is a prime example of this. Toots’ writing is not intellectual. Essentially, this is dance music. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also be poetry.

With remarkable economy of language, ‘Sweet and Dandy’ conjures up the intriguing narrative of an impoverished wedding in rural Jamaica. The three short verses and repeated chorus are tinged with Toots’ wry humour and tender human observation:

Eh-eh! Ettie in a room a-cry
Mama say she must wipe her eye
Papa say she no fi foolish like
She never been to school at all
It is no wonder
It’s a perfect ponder
While they were dancing in that ballroom last night

Eh-eh! Johnson in a room a-fret
Uncle say him must hold up him head
Auntie say he no fi foolish like
It’s not time for his wedding day
It is no wonder
It’s a perfect ponder
While they were dancing in that ballroom last night

One pound ten for the wedding cake
Plenty bottle of cola wine
All di people them dress up in a-white
Fi go eat off Johnson wedding cake
It is no wonder
It’s a perfect ponder
While they were dancing in that ballroom last night

But they were sweet and dandy, sweet and dandy….

About thespeedofdark

David Winship has written an unauthorised autobiography and several critically disdained literary tomes. His work is frequently compared with Steinbeck, Orwell and Hemingway, but unfortunately Mike Steinbeck, Daisy Orwell and Howard Hemingway were all terrible writers. He has been totally overlooked for the most prestigious literary awards worldwide, which is a shame as most of the words are spelled correctly. In fact, his books contain material that ranks with the finest literary works in history: all the right letters are there, just not necessarily in the right order.

Dave’s blog (The Speed Of Dark Blog) is part of his crusade for truth and justice and universal entitlement to free real ale. It may well be that his whole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.

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Category(s): Music
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