Jamaica Farewell

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"Jamaica Farewell"
Song by Harry Belafonte
Released 1957
Genre Mento
Writer(s) Irving Burgie
Language English

"Jamaica Farewell" is a mento[1] about the beauties of the West Indian Islands.

The lyrics for the song were written by Lord Burgess (Irving Burgie). Lord Burgess was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926. His mother was from Barbados and his father was from Virginia. The song first appeared on Harry Belafonte's phenomenally successful album Calypso. It reached number fourteen on Billboard's Pop chart.

Though many, including Belafonte himself, have said that the song was popular in the West Indies since long before Burgess, it is believed that Burgess compiled and modified the song from many folk pieces to make a new song, and it is clear that it was Belafonte who popularised the song outside the Caribbean Islands. Burgess acknowledged his use of the tune of another mento, "Iron Bar".[1]

The Kingston Trio, who led the folk revival of the late 1950s, took their name from the title of this song, though they only recorded it many years later, in 2006.

Other well-known singers of "Jamaica Farewell" include Brian Wilson, Chuck Berry (feat. The Five Demensions), Sir Lancelot, Jimmy Buffett, Sam Cooke, Nina & Frederik, Pat Rolle, Carly Simon, Nuttea, Caetano Veloso and Sting who covered the song while playing a melody of his own "Can't Stand Losing You / Reggatta de Blanc" while still with The Police in 1983. Ray Conniff and James Last orchestras have performed the song as well, on their albums "Happiness Is" (1966) and "Music From Across The Way" (1971), respectively. The Jukebox Band perform this song in a Shining Time Station episode: Bully for Mr. Conductor.

The term "Ackee" from the line "ackee, rice, saltfish is nice" refers to the fruit of a tropical tree indigenous to the Ivory Coast and Gold Coast of West Africa; taken to Jamaica in 1793. It has some poisonous properties, yet if properly prepared the fruit is quite good and is a part of the national dish "ackee and saltfish".

This song has been translated into many languages. For example, in Bengali, there exist several translations, some of which are quite well known. One Bengali version of the song became an important anthem for the Naxalite revolutionary movement in the 1970s and thus has significance for Bengali intellectuals in Kolkata society. Famous Bangladeshi band “Souls” also sang their own translated version in early 1990s which instantly became hit in Bangladesh and is still celebrated by the music lovers in Bangladesh.

In his album My Son, the Folk Singer, Allan Sherman included a parody of the song: "I'm upside down, my head is spinning around, because I gotta sell the house in Levittown!"

This song was featured in Rabbids Go Home at numerous parts of the game.

The song was covered with lyrics in Swedish by Schytts as Jamaica farväl, scoring a 1979 Svensktoppen hit.[2] Even Streaplers recorded a 1967 Swedish-language version of the song, with the lyrics "Långt långt bort". Their version became a 1968 Svensktoppen hit.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Larry Birnbaum (2013). Before Elvis: The Prehistory of Rock 'n' Roll. Lanham, Marryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 2024. ISBN 978-0-8108-8638-4. 
  2. ^ Svensktoppen 1979
  3. ^ Svensktoppen 1968

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