The tunes of the times

Published: Sunday | December 22, 2013 Comments 0
Admiral Bailey
Admiral Bailey
Bounty Killer
Bounty Killer

Songs point to specific times, immortalising artistes

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

As 2013 trundles towards a close, it will soon join previous years in the stockpile of treasured memories and regrets. And while it is yet to be seen if there will be a song which speaks directly to 2013 by its numbers, there are a number of tunes which date themselves by identifying a particular year.

Whether or not that dates the songs is up to the listener to determine.

In tracking the earlier days of his dancehall exploits, Lieutenant Stitchie (who is going to perform on Rebel Salute 2014 in St Ann next month) details some of his progress, including "Inna 1983 mi a St Catherine champion/1981 them used to call mi corporal/Inna 1982 them start to call mi sergeant/But 84 and from then on a strictly Lieutenant". (Ram Dance and Party).

Stitchie's autobiographical date references are striking in a business where specifying time periods can be tricky.

On one hand, it can make the track have historical relevance, but on the other, it can quickly make the song and artiste who performs it seem old very quickly.

In Me a De Danger deejay Admiral Bailey boldly states the year at the start of the song ("Well a want yu know dis a '87, an a me a de danger, thank you in advance").

Landmark year

It seems to have been a landmark year for the man who would go on to become a noted football coach, as later in the song he states "an when mi chat dem ya lyrics Lord yu know mi nah stop/for this is '87 an' is no turning back".

Then, realising that deejay seasons come and go very quickly, in the defiant Tink Mi Did Done, Admiral Bailey states clearly that "green mi green an mi jus' a blossom/after '87 there is a lot more to come".

Stating the date can take a look into the future, as he does in See You No More, which speaks to a time 10 years after its creation, Bounty Killer mused "big things a gwaan 2004/mi jus receive de gun weh name see you no more".

Using a shorter time span in looking to the future, Spragga Benz compiled a wish list for the upcoming year when he mulled over "whe we woulda love fi see inna '98".

Among the things that he desired was that then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson "lock back de gate/an try no make no more a we future escape".

There are also songs made from memories after a very short time span had elapsed. As Sting's 30th anniversary approaches, poet DYCR's track about the 20th anniversary show, Sting 2003, stands as a record of what transpired at that staging. There was the on-stage physical encounter involving Ninja Man and Vybz Kartel, as well as many a dismissal by missile - including one of DYCR himself.

And in describing his reaction, DYCR referenced what happened at Sting some years earlier when a man who looms large in this Thursday's staging, Supercat, was on the receiving end of missiles. If he had been hit, DYCR said, he would "return one back, just like Supercat".

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