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Sasco adds meaning to bus travels

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke

In the days when there was a Jamaica Broadcasting Commission (JBC) television, one of the memorable images during the playing of the National Anthem was a 'country bus' leaning precipitously to one side as it took a corner in Golden Grove, St Thomas. With produce piled on top, it was the quintessential mode of mass transportation between rural areas and the city at a time before the influx of minivans.

That large, loud bus, which carried plantains, people and pets in one big moving mass, has had a presence on screen in the opening scenes of the film The Harder They Come, and the music videos for Sizzla's Thank You Mama and Yogi's (now Courtney John) take on I Go Crazy.

While Professor Nuts celebrated Inna de Bus seems to detail the perils of the Corporate Area minibus system and the Caucasian duo of The Word did Two White Girls on a Minibus about the experiences travelling on a rural bus, and Lovindeer's The Blinking Bus is an in-depth exploration of the emotions which the discomfort evokes. In Country Life, Ras Karbi reverses the accustomed direction of the country bus in Jamaican popular culture, hopping on one in Half-Way Tree to check his grandmother.

However, while Karbi finds that 'country bus ride so nice' and has a relaxing, rejuvenating experience in rural Jamaica, it is normally the reverse journey from the rural to urban - such as the one Jimmy Cliff makes in The Harder They Come, which embodies the urban drift which affects not only Jamaica, but many other countries. And in his song, Country Bus, Agent Sasco adds significantly to the existing 'bus songs' by not simply detailing the travel experience, but the hopes and aspirations of the person making that journey:

"Me hear a nuff likkle hustling a run a town

So me a head fi di big city...

Mi hear say one a di pretty girl dem deh dung a town

Mi woulda love fe get a daughter or a son a town

So me a head fe di big city."




While he occupies a window seat and reads the newspaper and the driver 'speed an a come een' to Kingston, Sasco observes a number of characters who 'come een' the bus - from the Rastaman to the 'fatty' in her weave and the market people. There is a humorous line when:

"De bus stop an den a man hop on dem say a funny man

Me swear blin? is a comedian a come een."

In the second verse, Agent Sasco takes a look out the window and sees the cows and goats. Of course, the standard bus character - the conductor - makes an appearance, teasing a sugar cane vendor. The complaints are not to be left out - the schoolchildren who are late and the older lady who takes issue with the speeding - but the song's character never loses sight of his objective of a different experience. Sasco deejays in the bridge of Country Bus:

"I hear that the city don't sleep

There's no cow, no goat, no sheep ...

An me hear say a every night stage show keep."

But there is a price to be paid to access it, Sasco commenting, 'cyaa believe how much fare dem charge fe come a town'. He will pay it though, true de likkle hustling deh dung a town/So me a head fe de big city".