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Story of the song | Doubling up part of lyric

Published:Friday | July 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Burning Spear
Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert
Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley

This year marks a half century of the Festival Song contest and it is remarkable that a central member of the first winners, The Maytals, continues to be a prominent, active and loved performer.

Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert, of Toots and the Maytals, resumed performing recently, breaking an enforced hiatus starting when he was hit by a bottle while performing in the USA in May 2013.

That first Festival Song, Bam Bam, is an example of the doubling up of words which is common among Jamaicans, as in nation language we do not use 'very' and 'extremely' or other words describing degrees of magnitude. So something very large is 'big big', while 'small small' is at the other end of the size spectrum. We have a frozen treat called a 'suck suck' and popular singer Tarrus Riley is commonly called 'Singy Singy' which means that he loves to perform.

There are numerous examples of the doubling up of words making its way from into song. While the cry of 'Jamaica Jamaica' in Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley's Welcome to Jamrock is well known, long before that 2005 release, Supercat also called out to Jamaica twice at the start of his song, History.

Jah Cure's song is named Sticky, but in the tune he sings that things 'sticky sticky out deh.' Bounty Killer also has a 'sticky sticky' reference, although not as gentle as Jah Cure's. In Raggy Road, Capleton doubles a sound as much as a word, deejaying 'trodding this road for the longest time an me career nuff a dem waan fi soil, hey hey'.

The popular proverb 'wanty wanty cyaa get it and getty getty no want it,' uses double words in summing up the waste of those who have in abundance. The aphorism makes its way into song at the beginning of Half Pint's Crazy Girl.

In Foggy Road, Winston 'Burning Spear' Rodney, doubles up not only words but also entire lines in the first verse:

'My way is so long and the road is so foggy foggy

My way is so long and the road is so foggy foggy

My head never swell, my heart never leap...'

Elephant Man deejays about 'weddy weddy', a phrase attributed to Gerald 'Bogle' Levy and which is now the name of the weekly party at Stone Love's Burlington Avenue headquarters, while Sophia George's Girly Girly is about a man who 'jus' a flash it roun' de worly'.

Doubling is noted outside of Jamaica, too, as in Sweet Jamaica, Josey Wales speaks about the popular US state and city that, 'it is so big they named it twice, New York, New York.'