The author of this traditional Cuban song is unclear, although is sometimes attributed to to José Fernández Dia. The best known lyrics are an adaption of words by Cuban poet and independence hero José Martí. In 1966, a version by American vocal group The Sandpipers, based on an arrangement by Pete Seeger, became an international hit.
Choucoune (Haitian Creole: Choukoun) is a 19th-century Haitian song composed by Michel Mauleart Monton with lyrics from a poem by Oswald Durand. It was rewritten with English lyrics in the 20th century as Yellow Bird. In this form it has been covered by many artists, including The Brothers Four, The Paragons and Paul Clayton. It has also made countless appearances in popular culture.
LYRICS: Yellow bird, up high in banana tree. Yellow bird, you sit all alone like me. Did your lady friend leave the nest again? That is very sad, makes me feel so bad. You can fly away, in the sky away. You're more lucky than me.
This Caribbean song originates from the Virgin Islands. There are two versions of it, one with a modal feel, as in the version presented here, one in a major key. It is also frequently sung with a clapping game in which two set of partners stand in a square, clapping their partners hands (whilst avoiding the other partners) and also the hands of their neighbours. The song itself tells of four white horses being moved on a river barge or boat:
LYRICS: Four white horses on the river Hey, hey, hey, up tomorrow Up tomorrow is a rainy day Come on and join our shadow play Shadow play is a ripe banana Hey, hey, hey, up tomorrow Up tomorrow is a rainy day
Papaya is a popular soft tropical fruit found plentifully in Central America and the Caribbean. The trees grow really quickly - a seed, once planted, can produce fruit in less than a year - and also really big, so that it is is the job of some people to climb the tree and, in the words of the song, to 'Shake the Papaya Down':
LYRICS: Mama says no play; This is a work day, Up with the bright sun, get all the work done. If you will help me climb up the tall tree, Shake the papaya down.
'Day-o' is a work song that likely originated in the Jamaican dock area, where work was carried out at night to avoid the heat. Its form, call and response, is African in origin. The song was popularised in 1956 by Harry Belafonte in 1956. It has been covered by many artists since and has been particularly popular in advertising, having been used to promote brands of bubble gum, breakfast cereal and even cars.
LYRICS: Day-O, Day-O, Daylight come and I wanna go home Day-O, Day-O, Daylight come and I wanna go home
Come, Mister Tally Man, tally me banana Daylight come and I wanna go home Come, Mister Tally Man, tally me banana Daylight come and I wanna go home
This popular Christmas song originates from Trinidad. It seems to have been first written down from the singing of 92 year-old James Bryce in 1942, though its origins may be much earlier. It was later popularised by American folk singer Peter Seeger, subsequently being covered by artists that include Harry Belafonte, Mahalia Jackson and The Kingston Trio.
LYRICS: The Virgin Mary had a baby boy x3 And they say that his name was Jesus.
Refrain: He come from the glory, He come from the glorious kingdom. x2 O yes, believer x2 He come from the glory, He come from the glorious kingdom.
'Brown Girl in the Ring' is a traditional Jamaican song and children's game in which a girl dances in the middle of a ring of singers. It was popularised by the group Boney M, who released a version of it as a B side to their 'Rivers of Babylon' single in 1978. After the A side of that single waned in popularity, radio DJs began to play the B side and 'Brown Girl in the Ring' also became a hit.
LYRICS: Brown girl in the ring Tra la la la la There's a brown girl in the ring Tra la la la la la Brown girl in the ring Tra la la la la She looks like a sugar in a plum Plum plum
"Sloop John B" is a 1966 single by the Beach Boys and the seventh track on their album Pet Sounds. It was originally a traditional West Indies folk song or sea shanty, "The John B. Sails", taken from Carl Sandburg's 1927 collection of folk songs, The American Songbag.
LYRCIS: We come on the sloop John B., My grandfather and me, Around Nassau town we did roam. Drinking all night, Got into a fight, Well, I feel so break up, I want to go home.
This Jamaican folk song is about a mango orchard (referred to as a 'Mango Walk'), in which an unnamed person has stolen a variety of mango, 'Number Eleven.' The tune has been a steel-band staple for at least the last thirty-five years.
LYRICS: My mother deed-a tell me that you go mango walk, go mango walk, go mango walk. My mother deed-a tell me that you go mango walk, and eat all the number 'leven.
'Linstead Market' is a Jamaican traditional song first written down near the beginning of the twentieth century. It tells of a mother who cannot sell a quattie (one and a half pennies-worth) of ackee fruit, leaving her children hungry. The song has been arranged by composers such as Arthur Benjamin and A.H.Green and even been made into a hymn tune.
LYRICS: 1. Carry me ackee go a Linstead Market, Not a quattie would sell. Carry me ackee go a Linstead Market, Not a quattie would sell.