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Story of the Song | Two Carols, Jamaican Style

Published:Friday | December 2, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Wayne Wonder


It is the start of the time when the singing and shopping are on in earnest, and in this season of credit card swiping and Yuletide deals, it is a good time to revisit Christmas carols dancehall-style. The snow of the overseas songs for the season of good cheer has long been a bad fit for a country that has only coal flakes, but that has not stopped many from "dreaming of a white Christmas".

Of course, many a song for the season has been adapted to the 'yard' clime, but there are very few in the dancehall genre that have earned a consistent place in the Christmas repertoire.

One of them is done by Wayne Wonder and Baby Cham, who:

... Wish for all mankind

A warm Jamaican Christmas time

Where there is no snow.

Not only is there no white powdery stuff, but also (maybe substituting for the holly), it is a place "where the good sensimilla grow". And, where it grows, it is natural, as is proposed in Warm Jamaica Christmas Time, to "show some love and let the peace pipe burn".

Done on a dancehall rhythm, the end-of-year take on the standard singer/deejay format sees Cham referencing some familiar Jamaican spots and even a drink brand as he celebrates. He deejays:

Relax inna de sun an' drink a Red Stripe beer ...

An lissen reggae music from a ol' barber chair

An look back inna life an a give thanks to be here

Consider miself lucky although mi pants tear

A nuff a mi colleagues drop out through the year ...

There is another original Jamaican way to approach the business of Christmas, as Faith D'Aguilar has a merry time describing Santa Claus' mishaps perhaps explaining why he does not make it to many a Jamaican home. In Santa Ketch Up Ina Mango Tree, she does not specify what type of mango tree it is, but it is clear that he gets stuck as:

Santa ketch up inna mango tree ...

Patoo bawl out, what a Christmas treat

The nightbird's introduction opens the door for a raft of animals to get involved in Santa's predicament. Some illumination is required, so:

Peenie wallie go fi guide him

Wid the shining light, nice and bright

In easing Santa's passage to the ground, the unfortunate beast of burden is present:

Lucky one donkey underneath di tree ...

And that is how the toys eventually get to the homes of the children who have been nice that year:

The donkey start fi dally down di road

Dilly dally, dally down di road

The donkey start fi dally down di road

Santa say, wi haffi deliver this load

So just like Warm Jamaican Christmas Time, the end result is happiness, this time around, for the adults.