Mudcat Café message #3483437 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #149681   Message #3483437
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
25-Feb-13 - 12:38 AM
Thread Name: Jamaican Songs About The River Jordan
Subject: RE: Jamaican Songs About The River Jordan
From my perspective as a long-time listener to Jamaican music (but as a non-Jamaican), the Clancy Eccles track is the one that stands out most as "the" song about River Jordan. I'd say -- without being able to cite any statistics -- that River Jordan / Jordan River is mentioned in "a lot" of Jamaican songs. As you're probably well aware, Azizi, you're just scraping the surface of all this, and it might be wise to find out a bit more before posting anything that sounds *too* "official." The "Sankey" hymns that permeated Jamaican singing culture, the various religious "cults" of Jamaica (e.g. Kumina), and how these all filtered into the creation of popular music need a broader explanation, I think.

Anyway, I'd recommend this particular YouTube upload as a better recording of the Clancy Eccles:

The differing lyrics I hear (and which you may wish to amend) are:

Sinners better repent and pray
Because it will be a terrible day

Remember Noah build a ark, an' they mock him
Even doubt the storm

The musical style of the track is not ska, although it was produced in the ska era and employs the same musicians that invented ska. This rhythm is something I tend to refer to as the "bolero" rhythm. Some Jamaican artists have called it "buru," but that is highly confusing because "buru" actually refers more properly to the rhythm that ska was based off of. It really does seem to be some variant of the bolero that drummer Lloyd Knibb adopted (i.e. from Cuban music, perhaps), however, the songs it was used on tended to have a rather "deep" sentiment to them. It almost sounds like something more coming out of one of the African traditions being continued in Jamaica. It's complicated. And this stuff is not "common knowledge" that you would find somewhere on the Internet. To put it as simply as possible: the rhythm is very distinctive yet relatively uncommon among the recorded tracks of the ska era, and though it seems to be based on a bolero rhythm, it took on certain "spiritual" connotations in the Jamaican contexts, along with connotations of "deepness."

Please I ask that you don't quote me directly from the preceding paragraph. This stuff is complicated and really needs a lot of study and verification (and I am speaking from memory only). I think quoting and comparing these items to one another on the basis of the "river jordan" lyric, at *this* point, may be doing a disservice to the complexity of the topic.

A good introduction to the subject is Kenneth Bilby's chapter on Jamaica in the book _Caribbean Currents_ (ed. by Peter Manuel).