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Harry Belafonte Day O

"Day-O (The Banana Boat Song" by Harry Belafonta

Folk Music

There was all kinds of pioneering in popular music during this first decade of rock and roll. Harry Belafonte’s song “Day-O,” which was released in 1956, brought the elements of folk music, that is, a work song, and sounds of the Caribbean into the American consciousness. The baby boomers remember the words:

“Day-o, day-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home”

Originally, the song was a Jamaican folk song that had a popular adaptation by Irving Burgie (aka Lord Burgess), who was born in Brooklyn and had a mother from Barbardos and a father from Virginia. It is in the tradition of many work songs, with a repeated melody and refrain. The workers, who in this case are working on a banana boat, would improvise the verses as they felt the need. Edric Conner and the Caribbeans from Trinidad first recorded the song in 1952 (as “Day Dah Light”).

Harry Belafonte first performed the song on The Colgate Comedy Hour in 1955. He recorded it and released it both as a single from his album titled Calypso. The single went to #5 on the U.S. Top 100, #7 on the R&B Chart, #2 on the U.K. Chart, and #1 on both the charts for The Netherlands and Belgium. Calypso sold more than one million copies, which earned it an RIAA gold record. There have been numerous covers of the song, including versions by The Bob Gibson, Tarriers, Shirley Bassey, Sarah Vaughan, Shaggy, and Raffi, just to name a few.

Harry Belafonte Day O Banana Boat Song

The genre of the song has been debated, as its style called mento has merged with calypso music. Both styles have similarities, in that they are from the Caribbean, with African origins. Both tend to use acoustic instruments. They also can include sly political references and sexual innuendos.

Here are the lyrics to “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” by Harry Belafonte:

Day-o, day-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Me say day, me say day-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-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

A beautiful bunch o’ 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-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-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Me say day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

If you are interested in a copy of Calypso, please consider this from amazon:
Calypso + Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean

For More Golden Oldies Music       

The Daily Doo Wop Rec Room has daily featured doo wop, rock and roll, R&B, or rockabilly songs that were hits during the first era of rock and roll (that is, from about 1952 until the British invasion in 1964). After a song is featured, it then goes into the juke box. You are welcome to listen to any of the 40+ selections there. Every weekend, there is a Golden Oldies Juke Box Saturday Night, and the juke box is full of song requests from the 1950s and 1960s.

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