Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Morning movements from praise to fear

Published:Sunday | January 17, 2016 | 1:00 AMMel Cooke
Uprising Roots Band
Chronixx
Kabaka Pyramid
Shaggy
Junior Reid
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The start of the day sets the tone for the remaining waking hours for that cycle of activity and rest and, as it pays attention to the rhythm of life, Jamaican popular music provides a range of possibilities for just how to establish the day's pattern.

Of course, giving thanks to the Creator for the gift of another day is included. In the uptempo Skyfia, Uprising Roots Band encourages early waking (the spoken introduction goes "yeah man, dis one is fe de people who love stay inna bed late. Wake up an live"). Then here is the unit's preferred initial process, in which they "rise up this morning, hail the uprising, with fire, skyfia."

While that is a steaming way to greet the new day, in Mi Alright, Chronixx and Kabaka Pyramid take a more moderate approach to giving thanks for a new day. Chronixx, who does the chorus, sings:

"Jah Jah rise me out of my bed

And me go a river go wash my dread,

Me alright

Jah Jah sunrise wake me up this morning

And I can hear Mama Africa calling

All right."

Kabaka follows with "I got to give the Most High praise/From me see de lid dem pon both eyes raise/Breathe in the breath of life so I pray/To Selassie I to watch over those life ways/Smile with the rising sun/Jah creation me never hiding from ..."

In Church Heathen, Shaggy eventually goes to the place of Christian worship upon the

invitation of a lady, but before that his preference was for the pleasures of the flesh. He deejays:

"Me is a bway no go church from how long

Rather sleep through the morning an' put in a slam."

With freedom restricted, in General Penitentiary, Black Uhuru laments the unavailability of nourishment and the

overbearing warden:

"Down in the dumb cell

Where I can't take those smell

It's like a oven baking for 2,000 years

When the morning come I an' I would run to get some tea

Here comes the bosun with his baton

Saying dreadlocks, you don't come here to drink peas soup and fatten."

That was Black Uhuru with Michael Rose up front. A later iteration of the group, with Junior Reid on lead vocals, enjoys the freedom of the morning in Fit Yu Haffi Fit, where "in the morning as I rise put on me track suit an exercise/Me warn fi fit."

In the earlier days of Black Uhuru, there is also a lack of nourishment in the early going of the day. This time it is not a warder, but a woman who is the critical factor in Shine Eye Gal:

"I rise early looking some tea

Looking for the daughter but she no on ya

I take a walk down the street

De gal deh pon corner wid push mout Lorna

An' hair bed no spread."

There are very unpleasant ways to wake up, as Michael Prophet identifies in Gunman, where he gets a rude awakening as "I wake up in the morning what do I see?/Gunman standing over me/With their gun and their bayonet/Me cry, 'ow people a go feel it." Still, the Almighty is no to be left out of the waking up, despite the circumstances, as Michael Prophet sings, "it was the saviour of my life/Really open my eyes and save me/From gunman standing over me."

In Burnin' and Lootin', Bob Marley also records waking up to guns, clearly those of the security forces, as "this morning I woke up to a curfew/Oh God I was a prisoner too/Could not recognise the faces standing over me/They were all dressed in uniforms of brutality."

As powerful a statement as that is, it is not as popular as the pleasant awakening in Three Little Birds, where Marley sings "rise up this morning/Smile with the rising sun/Three little birds pitch by my doorstep/Singing sweet songs."