Saturday, April 01, 2006

Harry Belafonte's Calypso

So I go the door this morning and there's a stranger there. He asks, "Are you Cedric?" Yes. He hands me a package and says good-bye.

It contains a few books and the CD Harry Belafonte Calypso. He's someone C.I. knows who was coming to my area so C.I. asked him to drop off the items with me. I'd mentioned Harry Belafonte in my post on Thursday (which C.I. was kind enough to note three times at The Common Ills) and I'd called C.I. before posting. While we were on the phone, I'd mentioned two CDs I had of Harry Belafonte's. C.I. had mentioned Calypso and was surprised that I not only didn't have it but I'd also never heard the entire album (one of my albums is a collection and some songs from Calypso appear on it). C.I. recommended it strongly.

I'd forgotten about that until the stranger showed up at my door. I'll note that the last time C.I. passed on a series of books, it never arrived in the mail and that may be why C.I. asked a friend who was traveling to my area to drop off this package.

I haven't even looked at the books. I've just listened to Calypso most of the day. Over and over. It really is a great album. It came out in 1956 and was a million seller back when million sellers were a rare thing. There are eleven tracks and besides "Day-O (Banana Boat Song)," the song most people will probably know, one of my favorites, is "Jamaica Farewell."

While I was listening, I thought about how I wished I had an illustration and, if I did, I'd write a little about the album. Then I remembered that Rebecca enjoyed the album and had been scanning some covers for future posts at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. So I called her cell but didn't get an answer. I tried Mike's home phone number (she, Fly Boy and Elaine are at Mike's this weekend) and he put her on the phone. She wasn't sure if she had it on her laptop because she has most of her jpegs on her home computer. She said she'd check and call back. She ended up networking with her home computer (don't ask me), I think, and when she called back, she said it was up at her site. So thank you to Rebecca for that.

I really enjoy Calypso. Too much so, in fact. I was washing dishes and went into the living room when "Hosanna" came on. I ended up sitting down on the couch and listening. Then, after the last track, I started the CD back up. At some point, I thought we had a light rain and probably ten minutes after that, I realized that I had left the water in the sink on. I had water all over the kitchen floor.

After I cleaned up my mess, I went back to listening to the CD. My cousin stopped by for a few minutes but ended up staying to hear the CD too. This is one of those albums that works as a whole. And you're not grabbing the remote to skip songs.

Another thing I enjoy is the fact that linear notes are reproduced. I wish new CDs would carry those. Sometimes you get a paragraph or two about the album, on a new CD, and maybe a list of thank yous but that's really about all. I have little interest in most of the "bonus" DVDs that CDs are being packaged with these days. I wonder why they don't take the time to provide linear notes but, then again, most of the CDs don't provide much worth writing about.

William Attaway wrote the linear notes, by the way. I didn't know the name but it said he is the "Author of several novels and screenplays. Mr. Attaway is currently writing scripts for television." If you click here you can learn about Attaway who died in 1986 of cancer and co-wrote six of the songs on Calypso. He lived a very interesting life, civil rights advocate, advocate before the civil rights period, even, and a writer of many forms. It notes that:

Attaway was the first black writer to write scripts for TV and films. He wrote Hundred Years of Laughter, an hour long special on black humor that aired in 1964. The hour-long special featured comedians Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley, and Flip Wilson in their first appearance on television.

So that was interesting to learn. I think my favorite song on Calypso is "Brown Skin Girl." If you're like me before this morning and have never heard the CD, you're missing out more than you know (more than I knew).

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