Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)

"Banana Boat Song"
Single by Harry Belafonte
from the album 'Calypso'
Released 1956
Format vinyl record (7", 10")
Length 3:02
Label RCA

"Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" is a traditional Jamaican mento folk song, the best-known version of which was sung by Harry Belafonte. Although it is really Jamaican mento, the song is widely known as an example of calypso music. It is a song from the point of view of dock workers working the night shift loading bananas onto ships. Daylight has come, the shift is over and they want their work to be counted up so that they can go home.

Contents

Origins

The song was originally a Jamaican folk song. Its popular version was adapted by Barbadian Irving Burgie.[1] It was thought to be sung by Jamaican banana workers, with a repeated melody and refrain (call and response), with each set lyric there would be a response from the workers but with many different sets of lyrics, some possibly improvised on the spot. The first recorded version was done by Trinidadian singer Edric Connor and his band "Edric Connor and the Caribbeans" in 1952, on the album Songs From Jamaica; the song was called "Day Dah Light".[2] Belafonte based his version on a 1954 recording by Jamaican folk singer Louise Bennett.[3] In 1955, singer/songwriters Irving Burgie and William Attaway wrote a version of the lyrics for the Colgate Comedy Hour in which the song was performed by Harry Belafonte.[4] This is the version that is by far the best known to listeners today, as it reached number five on the Billboard charts in 1957 and later became Belafonte's signature song. Side two of Harry Belafonte's 1956 Calypso album opens with "Star O", a song referring to the day shift ending with the first star seen in the sky. Also in 1956, folk singer Bob Gibson, who had travelled to Jamaica and heard the song, taught his version of it to the folk band The Tarriers. They recorded a version of that song that mixed in the chorus of another Jamaican folk song, "Hill and Gully Rider", and released it, spawning what became their biggest hit. It outdid Belafonte's original on the pop charts, reaching number four. This version was re-recorded by Shirley Bassey in 1957, and became a hit in the United Kingdom.[5] The Tarriers, or some subset of the three members of the group (Erik Darling, Bob Carey and Alan Arkin) are sometimes credited as the writers of the song, perhaps because their version of the song, which mixed in another song, was an original creation.

Covers, parodies and other uses

  • "Banana Boat (Day-O)" by Stan Freberg, produced in the 1950s by Capitol Records, features ongoing disagreement between an enthusiastic lead singer and a bongo-playing beatnik (Peter Leeds) who "don't dig loud noises" and had the catchphrase "You're too loud, man". When he hears the lyric about the "deadly black taranch-la" [actually the highly venomous Brazilian wandering spider or banana spider], the beatnik protests, "Don't sing about spiders, man! Like, I don't dig spiders".[6] Stan Freberg's version was the basis for the TV advert for the UK chocolate bar Trio in the mid-1980s.
  • The Italian vocalist quartet Quartetto Cetra in the early '60 recorded a cover parody in Italian "Pummarola Boat" (Pummarola = neapolitan word for tomato).
  • The Kinks frequently performed an abbreviated version of this song in the early 1970s, and a live version appears on the album Everybody's in Showbiz. In later years, lead singer Ray Davies often led the audience in singing "Day-O" in between songs.
  • In 1981 Adriano Celentano maked cover "Deus" on this song.
  • In 1972, the Dutch artist & comic André van Duin used the melody for a song "Bananenlied" (Banana Song) exploring the question of why bananas are bent.
  • German band Trio performed a parody where "Bommerlunder" (a German schnapps) substituted the words "daylight come" in the 1980s. In one rare coincidence, Trio and Harry Belafonte appeared in the same TV show with the latter watching Trio's act in disbelief.
  • Serbian band The Kuguars recorded a cover version in Serbian language, entitled "Dejo", dedicating it to football player Dejan Savićević.[7]
  • The Flash animation "Osama Bin Laden Has Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide", produced by cards-n-toons.com shortly after the September 11 attacks, features a parody version of the song apparently performed by Colin Powell (with George W. Bush on bongos). The main refrain is "Come Mr. Taliban, turn over bin Laden! (Payback come then we drop the bomb)".[8]
  • A version was performed on an advert for Kellogg's Fruit 'n Fibre, with amended lyrics.
  • Parodied as "Gay-O" in The Simpsons episode about gay marriage titled "There's Something About Marrying," season 16; also in a Drawn Together episode titled "Gay Bash".
  • Musical comedy group Da Yoopers parodied the song as "It Was Eino" on their 1996 album We're Still Rockin'. Their version tells a story of deer hunting.
  • The Firesign Theatre parodied the song on their 1985 album Eat Or Be Eaten as an ad for "Rastafarian Motors" auto repair shop ("You should be smoking, not your car!").
  • "The Crypto Song", a parody about Cryptography, Crooks, and Mr. Businessman.[9]
  • The Capitol Steps released a 1993 cover titled "Day Care" ("Day care call and the mom go home").[10]
  • Lil Wayne's song "6 Foot 7 Foot" samples a recording of this song.
  • Harry Belafonte's son David, and daughter Gina parodied the song for the Oldsmobile Toronado in a 1989 commercial.
  • Jason Derulo uses the refrain of the song on his own single "Don't Wanna Go Home" in 2011.
  • "Shake Senora", a song featuring T-Pain off of Pitbull's album Planet Pit, is said to be in the tune of this song.

Cultural references

  • Pia Zadora sings a brief a cappella version of the song in the film Hairspray.
  • The song was used in the dinner scene in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, when the hosts and dinner guests become possessed and begin to sing and dance to the song. It is also played faintly during the Geffen Enterprises logo. On the soundtrack it can be heard in the very beginning of Danny Elfman's theme composition for the film.
  • In BBC Radio 4 comedy series Giles Wemmbley-Hogg Goes Off, Giles travels to New Zealand to stop his ex-girlfriend Arabella marrying a Mr Fonty, as then she would be Arabella Fonty, and everyone she was introduced to would sing this song at her.
  • The song was used at the end of the Spin City season 3 episode, "Local Hero", where it was sung by the mayor Randall Winston (Barry Bostwick) and his assistants James Hobert (Alexander Chaplin) and Paul Lassiter (Richard Kind). Lassiter is singing the song loudly and badly, and right after he sings "Daylight come and me wan' go home", the character played by Beth Littleford says "So why don't you?".
  • Harry Belafonte tries to sing his hit song "Day-O" (frequently referred to as "The Banana Boat Song") for the opening number in The Muppet Show episode 314. He is repeatedly interrupted by Fozzie, who wants to do the number up perfectly, as it's the first time Harry has sung this song on TV.
  • Elmo sings a few lines from the song while dressed as a banana in Elmo's World: Bananas on Sesame Street. Grover leads a counting version of the song, in the Sea World stage show Bert and Ernie's Island Holiday.
  • In more than one episode of Futurama, character Hermes Conrad (a Jamaican bureaucrat) has made references to the song. Most notably, in "The Cyber House Rules", the show's protagonist, Philip J. Fry, refers to Hermes as being a "rastafarian accountant", to which Hermes replies, "Tally me banana".
  • The French vocal quartet Pow woW sang "Day-O".
  • The song was (incorrectly) quoted in Peep Show by Jeremy, who responds to a criticism with "Oh Mr. Taliban, tally me banana."

References

  1. ^ Profile of Irving Burgie, TotallyBarbados.com
  2. ^ Mento Music. Edric Connor, Louise Bennett & Jamaican Folk Music
  3. ^ The Louise Bennett version of Day O (The Banana Boat Song) is available and documented in both French and English on the Jamaica - Mento 1951-1958 album. Its booklet is available online: [1]
  4. ^ Garth L. Green, Philip W. Scher, Trinidad carnival: the cultural politics of a transnational festival, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=dGSnsW6rA6EC&pg=PA186 
  5. ^ Bassey on Chartstats.com
  6. ^ "Show 18 - Blowin' in the Wind: Pop discovers folk music. [Part 1] : UNT Digital Library". Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 1969-05-25. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc19768/m1/. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  7. ^ The Kuguars - "Dejo", YouTube
  8. ^ "Bin Laden Has Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide". MadBlast.com. http://www.madblast.com/funny/1492_bin-laden-has-nowhere-run-nowhere-hide.html. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  9. ^ Henry, Patrick (2008-03-28). "The Crypto Parody". Catonmat.net. http://www.catonmat.net/blog/musical-geek-friday-crypto/. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  10. ^ "On-line Album Orders". Capitol Steps. https://albums.capitolsteps.com/cgi-bin/miva?albums/order.mv. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 

Lyrics

  • Lyrics from the Harry Belafonte's Version
Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Work all night on a drink of rum
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Stack banana till de morning come
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Lift six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Beautiful bunch of ripe banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Hide the deadly black tarantula
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Lift six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day....ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home

External links


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