Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)
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|"Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)"|
|Single by Harry Belafonte|
|from the album Calypso|
|Format||Vinyl record (7-inch, 10-inch)|
|Studio||Grand Ballroom, Webster Hall, New York City|
|Harry Belafonte singles chronology|
It is a work song, from the point of view of dock workers working the night shift loading bananas onto ships. The lyrics describe how daylight has come, their shift is over, and they want their work to be counted up so that they can go home.
The best-known version was released by American singer Harry Belafonte in 1956 and later became one of his signature songs. That same year The Tarriers released an alternative version that incorporated the chorus of another Jamaican folk song, "Hill and Gully Rider". The Tarriers version was recorded by Shirley Bassey in 1957 for her 1959 album The Bewitching Miss Bassey.
The song originated as a Jamaican folk song. It was thought to be sung by Jamaican banana workers, with a repeated melody and refrain (call and response); to each set lyric, the workers made a response. There were numerous versions of lyrics, some likely improvised on the spot by the singers. The song was probably created around the second half of the nineteenth century or the first half of the twentieth century, where there was a rise of the banana trade in Jamaica.
The song was first recorded by Trinidadian singer Edric Connor and his band "Edric Connor and the Caribbeans" on the 1952 album Songs From Jamaica; the song was called "Day Dah Light". Belafonte based his version on Connor's 1952 and Louise Bennett's 1954 recordings.
In 1955, American singer-songwriters Lord Burgess and William Attaway wrote a version of the lyrics for the Colgate Comedy Hour, in which the song was performed by Harry Belafonte. Belafonte recorded the song for RCA Victor and this is the version that is best known to listeners today, as it reached number five on the Billboard charts in 1957 and later became Belafonte's signature song. Side two of Belafonte's 1956 Calypso album opens with "Star O", a song referring to the day shift ending when the first star is seen in the sky. During recording, when asked for its title, Harry spells, "Day Done Light".
Also in 1956, folk singer Bob Gibson, who had traveled to Jamaica and heard the song, taught his version to the folk band The Tarriers. They recorded a version of that song that incorporated the chorus of "Hill and Gully Rider", another Jamaican folk song. This release became their biggest hit, reaching number four on the pop charts, where it outperformed Belafonte's version. The Tarriers' version was recorded by Shirley Bassey in 1957 and it became a hit in the United Kingdom. The Tarriers, or some subset of the three members of the group (Erik Darling, Bob Carey and Alan Arkin, later better known as an actor) are sometimes credited as the writers of the song; their version combined elements of another song and was thus newly created.
- Sarah Vaughan recorded the song for Mercury Records in 1956.
- The Fontane Sisters mimicked The Tarriers version in a recording of the song for Dot Records in 1956. It charted to number 13 in the US in 1957.
- Barry Frank released a version for Bell in 1957.
- Jimmie Rodgers recorded the song for Dot Records which was released in September, 1963.
- The Techniques covered the song in 1967.
- The Kinks did a semi-serious version on the 1972 album Everybody's in Show-Biz
- Children's singer Raffi recorded this song for his 1980 album, Baby Beluga, releasing it as a single.
- Italian singer Mina covered the song under the title "Banana Boat" on the 1984 album Catene.
- Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers performed a go-go rendition for the album Go Go Swing Live (1986).
- George Clinton released a Funk version of the song on his 1989 album The Cinderella Theory.
- Hasil Adkins recorded a rockabilly version of this song that was included on the 1990 Norton Records album, Peanut Butter Rock and Roll.
- Jamaican singer Shaggy recorded a dancehall version for his 1995 album Boombastic.
- The Kidsongs Kids sing this song on "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing". There is also an instrumental outro as heard on CDs and cassettes.
- German dance band Scooter made a cover version of the song in 2003. Originally, it was intended to release as a Ratty track but the plan cancelled and the song released under the name "Beetle Juice pres. Rick Maniac & Dr. Loop".
- The Polish sea-shanty band Banana Boat sings this song on their 2004 album "A morze tak, a może nie".
- British new wave band The Police were known to include snippets of the song during early live performances of their own track 'Reggatta de Blanc'.
- Australian children's entertainers The Wiggles cover it in their 2008 album You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.
- Vocal Sampling have performed an a cappella version, which is included in their 2008 album Akapelleando.
- Bunker Beach waterpark has a rotating music set, called Splash Radio which includes a version of this song.
- Gregory Isaacs covered the song under the "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" title.
- The Hit Crew covered this song.
- The cast of the hit Broadway musical Beetlejuice covered it in their finale.
Parodies and alternate lyrics
- "Banana Boat (Day-O)" a parody by Stan Freberg, released in 1957 by Capitol Records, features ongoing disagreement between an enthusiastic Jamaican lead singer and a bongo-playing beatnik (Peter Leeds) who "don't dig loud noises" and has the catchphrase "You're too loud, man". When he hears the lyric about the "deadly black taranch-la" (actually the highly venomous Brazilian wandering spider, commonly dubbed "banana spider"), the beatnik protests, "No, man! Don't sing about spiders, I mean, oooo! like I don't dig spiders". Freberg's version was popular and received much radio airplay; Harry Belafonte reportedly disliked the parody. Stan Freberg's version was the basis for the jingle for the TV advert for the UK chocolate bar Trio from the mid-1980s to the early to mid-1990s, the lyrics being, "Trio, Trio, I want a Trio and I want one now. Not one, not two, but three things in it; chocolatey biscuit and a toffee taste too."
- Dutch comedian André van Duin released his version in 1972 called Het bananenlied: the banana song. This song asks repetitively why bananas are bent. It reaches the conclusion that if the bananas weren't bent they wouldn't fit into their peels.
- German band Trio performed a parody where "Bommerlunder" (a German schnapps) substituted the words "daylight come" in the 1980s. In one rare occurrence, Trio and Harry Belafonte appeared in the same TV show, "Bio's Bahnhof", in 1982, with the latter watching Trio's act in disbelief.
- The Serbian comedy rock band The Kuguars, consisting of famous Serbian actors, covered the song in 1998, with lyrics in Serbian language dedicated to the, at the time, Yugoslav national soccer team player Dejan "Dejo" Savićević. The song became a nationwide hit, and a promotional video for the song had been recorded.
- In their 1994 album, the comedy music group Grup Vitamin included a Turkish cover of the song parodying the macho culture in the country.
- The Swedish humor show Rally, which aired between 1995 and 2002 in Sveriges Radio P3 made a version called "Hey Mr. Taliban", which speaks about Osama Bin Laden with the lyrics "Hey Mister Tallyman, tally me banana/Daylight come and me wan' go home" replaced by "Hey Mister Taliban, In Afghanistan/US Come and you wanna go home" or "Hey Mister Taliban! Turn over Bin Laden" and "Day-O! Daaaaay-O! Daylight come and me wan' go home" is replaced by "Day-O! Daaaay-O! Missile come and you wanna go home".
- Since 1988 British radio DJ and presenter Simon Mayo has used several variations of the song as jingles. This originated during Mayo's time as presenter of the Radio 1 Breakfast Show where the jingle was sung by fellow presenter Steve Wright and has continued on many of his shows since, including Mayo's Drivetime show on BBC Radio 2 and since 2019 an orchestral version on Mayo's mid-morning show on Scala Radio.
- In 1988–89, Belafonte's children, David and Gina, parodied the song in a commercial about the Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo. (David was singing "Trofeo" in the same style as "Day-O" in the song).
- A parody of this song was used in an E-Trade commercial that first aired on Super Bowl LII
- Food manufacturer Kellogg's parodied the song in their 2001 television advertisement for their breakfast cereal Fruit 'n Fibre.
- For an ad campaign that started in 1991, now-defunct Seattle-based department store chain Bon Marche used a version of the song with alternate lyrics in their commercials.
- In November 2019, the Stephen Colbert show modified the lyrics to make fun of Mike Pompeo, saying "Pompe-O, Pompe-O. Hearing come and I wanna go home." and continuing with "Clearly we all knew of quid pro quo", "We all knew of the Ukraine deal", "Soon Mr. Adam man will issue him subpoena", "Run Mr. Flabby Man, Run back to Kansas", with each line followed by "Hearing come and I wanna go home."
Samples and interpolations
- Country music artist Neal McCoy references the song in his song "Hillbilly Rap" off his 1996 self-titled album.
- Jamaican singer Frankie Paul used the song's chorus for a dancehall song.
- Jason Derulo sampled the song in "Don't Wanna Go Home".
- American rapper Lil Wayne samples the line "6 foot, 7 foot, 8 foot bunch" for the hook of the song "6 Foot 7 Foot", together with the line "Stack Banana" which is repeated throughout the song.
- Chilean program 31 minutos used the song "Arwrarwrirwrarwro" make a Bombi version of "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)".
In media and politics
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- Belafonte sang the song on a 1979 episode of The Muppet Show, the first time he performed it on television since 1955.
- Fleksnes Fataliteter The Norwegian comedy character Marve Fleksnes uses the phrase "Day-O" whenever he sees a situation which he can benefit from, or when agitated or insecure.
- In the Bosom Buddies episode "Only The Lonely", Ruth invites Kip and Henry to her apartment for a get-together, but keeps the party going until all hours and won't let the pair leave. When she starts singing the Banana Boat Song, Kip and Henry only join in on the chorus: "We want to go home".
- The original 1956 Belafonte recording is heard in the 1988 film Beetlejuice in a dinner scene in which the guests are supernaturally compelled to dance along to the song by the film's protagonists.
- Belafonte's version was used in a 1990s ABC ident featuring the Bananas in Pyjamas.
- On the NFL Primetime program, Chris Berman uses the phrase "Daylight come and you gotta Delhomme", as a nickname for former Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme.
- In Ava DuVernay's film Selma, Rev. Hosea Williams (played by Wendell Pierce) starts a chorus of the song at a meeting where it is announced that Harry Belafonte will join the third and final of the Selma to Montgomery marches. Belafonte appears among the marchers in newsreel footage shown during the end credits of the film.
- In Thomas & Friends Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, Skiff the Railboat (Jamie Campbell Bower) sings a part of the chorus after he sees the sun comes up, whilst calling Sailor John (John Hurt) out that it is time to go home.
- In Dancing with the Stars (U.S. season 23), Terra Jole and Sasha Farber danced to this song in the special "Halloween Dance Night."
- In the Legends of Tomorrow episode "Moonshot", Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell) sing a duet version.
- In the TV series Family Ties episode "Invasion of the Psychologist Snatchers", Lauren (Courteney Cox) tells Alex (Michael J. Fox) she loves him because he once started singing the song when they were attending a very boring conference.
- The song was used in the 1989 unsold animated pilot Hound Town.
- In the "Tickle Me Land" scene of the "Bananas" episode of the Sesame Street segment, Elmo's World, Elmo in sung a few lines of the song while dressed as a banana.
- In the Late Show by Stephen Colbert, Day-O was modified to Pompe-O.
- The song was also the wake-up call for the astronauts on two Space Shuttle missions in the 1990s.
Justin Trudeau blackface incident
On September 18, 2019, Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, admitted to singing "Day-O" while wearing blackface makeup and an afro wig at a talent show when he was in high school at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf.
- "Edric Connor, Louise Bennett and Jamaican Folk Music". Mento Music. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
- The Louise Bennett version of Day O (The Banana Boat Song) is available and documented in both French and English on the Jamaica – Mento 1951–1958 album (2009)
- "Frémeaux & Associés éditeur, La Librairie Sonore". Fremeaux.com. 1932-06-19. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
- Green, Garth L.; Scher, Philip W. (28 March 2007). "Trinidad Carnival: The Cultural Politics of a Transnational Festival". Indiana University Press. p. 186. Retrieved 1 September 2018 – via Google Books.
- "ChartArchive - Shirley Bassey - The Banana Boat Song". Archive.is. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
- "Barry Frank recorded or participated in at least the following 54 song(s)". Bell Records. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- "Jimmie Rodgers (2) - The Banana Boat Song (Vinyl)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
- "Vocal Sampling - Akapelleando". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
- "Show 18 – Blowin' in the Wind: Pop discovers folk music. [Part 1] : UNT Digital Library". Digital.library.unt.edu. 1969-05-25. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
- "Trio bei Bio". YouTube. 2011-11-16. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
- Banel, Feliks. "The unlikely lasting legacy, melody from the Bon Marché". Mynorthwest.com. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
- "Stephen Colbert Taunts Mike Pompeo With a Goodbye Calypso Tune". Thewrap.com. November 23, 2019.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-07-25. Retrieved 2017-08-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "'Legends of Tomorrow' Recap: Defying Gravity, Legends-Style". Entertainment Weekly. 15 March 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- "Writer of Harry Belafonte's calypso hit Day-O dies aged 95". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk.
- "Justin Trudeau Admits to Also Wearing Blackface 'Makeup' in High School Following TIME Report". Time. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
- English version of the text can be found at the bottom of the page. These lyrics are different from Belafonte's original version
- Who wrote the Banana Boat Song?, So Quoted blog, September 2005
- "Banana Loader's Song, The Originals website
- Mark Roth, "The Banana Boat Song: 'Daylight come and me wan' go home ...'", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 27 November 2005