Calypso With Roger Gibbs

Fire in de Mountain - YouTube

Historian John Cowley bring to our attention in his book ' Carnival, Canboulay and Calypso - Traditions in the making' a song from 1823 whose lyrics were wri...

www.youtube.com

'FIRE IN DE MOUNTAIN'

 

Historian John Cowley brings to our attention in his book ' Carnival, Canboulay and Calypso - Traditions in the making' a song from 1823 whose lyrics were written down and published in 1833 by the wife of John W. Carmichael, owner of a plantation in Laurel Hill (Arouca). According to Mrs. Carmichael,

"I heard some of the young negroes singing, as I thought, a rather singular song. I asked J. to sing it for me; he hesitated and said, 'Misses, it no good song.' Why do you sing it then? ' 'Cause, misses, it a funny song, and me no mean bad by it.' At last I prevailed on J. not only to sing the song (which turned out to be an insurrectionary song), but to explain it. The words are these...

Fire in da mountain
Nobody for out him
Take me daddy's bo tick (dandy stick)
And make a monkey out him

Poor John! Nobody for out him... rpts

Go to the King's gaol
You'll find a doubloon dey
Go to the King's gaol
You'll find a doubloon dey

Poor John! Nobody for out him... rpts

The explanation of this song is, that when the bad negroes wanted to do evil, they made for a sign a fire on the hill sides to burn down the canes. There is nobody up there to put out the fire but as a sort of satire, the song goes on to say, 'take me daddy's bo tick' (daddy is a term of civility), take someone's dandy stick and tell the monkeys to help to put out the fire among the canes for John (meaning John Bull). The chorus means that poor John has nobody to put out the fire in the canes for him. Then when the canes are burning, go to the gaol and seize the money. The tune to which this is sung is said to be negro music; it is on a minor key and singularly resembles an incorrect edition of an old Scotch tune, the name of which I do not recollect."

Mrs. Carmichael's observations give us great insights into the times, even as one keeps in mind her biases. Unlike an older Trinidadian "folk" song from around 1805 in Diego Martin that has a tune ('Pain Nous Ka Mange'), this one does not. After reading the lyrics over many times a melody came to me, which I recorded as a simple demo late one night at home (I had to play and sing softly so as not to wake neighbours!).

I hope this makes this remarkable historical artifact - a proto-calypso - more accessible. Here's 'Fire In De Mountain' 'FIRE IN DE MOUNTAIN'

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpS816RjffY&t=18s

Roger Gibbs

 

416-484-6914

www.spiritofcalypso.com

ROGER GIBBS- CALYPSO

CALYPSO JAMS series is presented by the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton (CCAH).

 

'Ratiray'         Traditional

 

'What Mas' Means to Me'   R. Gibbs

 

'Calypso History'    D. Lochan

 

'Jane'   S. Francisco

Roger Gibbs

 

416-484-6914

www.spiritofcalypso.com

Calypso Jams

www.youtube.com

The 1st of 4 mini-concerts presented by Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton - CCAH

©2012  BAJAN DIASPORA ONLINE.