This is a throwback to an article I did for the Calypso Association 50th anniversary magazine in 2007. In the interest of increasing awareness of the accomplishments of some of our iconic calypsonians and increasing appreciation for the art form, I figured I would share some of that issue with you. This particular article looked at the Anchors of Antiguan calypso – not the superstars covered in Over the Boundary but the reliable contributors known for their consistent play, providing a strong foundation for the growth of the art form. The first of these looked at Franco, and the second at Calypso Joe. in this post, I’ll share the section of that article focused on Calypso Jim. DO NOT repost without permission or credit.
“I love it! I love it! I don’t smoke, I don’t drink…my main hobby is singing Calypso,” Charles Smith told Essential magazine back in 2005 still enthusiastic about the stage that had failed to bless him with a crown. Still, what is a crown when he’s gone to such comic lengths – including drag – to make sure that people have a good time? When fans think of him, it’s of how he continues to make them laugh with his ribald humour.
“When you done
Go down in me flowers garden
And lawn um dung
Don’t lock off you engine
Lawn um dung
Cut down every single thing
Lawn um dung
Just spare me ladies of the night
Lawn um dung
And mine you nuh bus me water pipe”
(1988’s Lawn Um Dung)
In fact, he even comes at his serious topics with that trademark humour. As Mickel Brann reflected in the Essential article, this included local resistance to the growing number of immigrants in 1992, when he donned protective gear from head to toe and proceeded to flit down the place.
“Tek de Baygon and arwe go flit flit flit.”
His best years were perhaps 1981, 1986, and 1993, when he cracked the top three with the likes of ‘Aliens’.
“Clear de way, de Aliens coming!”
This is evidence that his humour ought not to give one cause to dismiss him as a lightweight. As Calypso Talk assessed in 1993, “He sings Calypso well, earthy, folksy, funny and extremely relevant”.
Let it not be forgotten as well, that that insightful humour made ‘Exercise’ one of the few tunes to interrupt Flames’ dominance of the road, when it took the road march title in 2000.
“You Calypsonians you not very smart
That’s why the bands win the road march
For we the people we don’t want no politics
We want to jump up and sing stupidness…
…one an’ one ah two music we want from you
Three an three ah six, to hell with lyrics”
As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. Seriously, a lot of time, energy, love and frustration goes in to researching and creating content for this site; please don’t just take it up just so without even a please, thank you or an ah-fu-she-subben (credit). If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.