Story of the Song | Ifrica requires heroes in 'Times Like These'
Throughout the month, 'The Story of the Song', has done a revisiting of songs involving Jamaica's national heroes. This week, the lyrics under examination are from Queen Ifrica's, Times Like These.
Jamaican popular music is noticeably bereft of songs lauding Jamaica's national heroes - Paul Bogle, George William Gordon, Nanny, Samuel Sharpe, Sir Alexander Bustamante, Norman Manley, and Marcus Garvey. And those that do refer to them, tend to be older tracks like Derrick Morgan's Jamaican Independence song Forward March, which refers to Manley and Bustamante. Still, that is in their political leadership rather than National Hero capacities.
Derrick Morgan is Queen Ifrica's father (her given name is Ventrice Morgan), and the family link is not only in music, generally, but Jamaican national heroes mentioned in their music. Queen Ifrica's 2010 Times Like These is one of the notable exceptions, as a more recently released song that has struck a chord with the music-loving public, speaking directly to the Jamaican heroes - or, at least, to a few of them.
After a number of quotes from the one national hero with a consistent popular music presence, Marcus Garvey, Ifrica sings about a society changing for the worse because of a mute situation:
"They took away the voices that gave the people pride
Now we plunging into darkness
We all have to play our part
Make a bold start
Every disc jock tell every artiste."
And in the chorus she sings:
"It's times like these I'm missing our heroes
Times like these I really wish they were around
It shouldn't have to be like this
Me know say you try you best
But we haffi go do the rest."
Although she invokes the accustomed name of Garvey first, then Marley's name and Miss Lou, Ifrica does mention other heroes who are much less celebrated in song, going on to plead, "we need you Sam Sharpe, we need you Nanny" close to the end of Times Like These.
Garvey's words make a significant contribution to Times Like These. The composite of Garvey quotes, which start the song, addresses the importance of the arts, self-confidence, and the accustomed flow of creation and consumption:
"One civilisation is not complete without it's art
The highest form of expression of human intelligence
You have become complacent
Sitting down and allowing the other nations to run away with everything
You have become a bunch of consumers
You are creators
Rise up mighty people and accomplish what you will
Without confidence you're twice defeated in the race of life."