Jamaica Farewell

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

"Jamaica Farewell" is a Jamaican-style folk song (mento[1]) about the beauties of the West Indian Islands. The song first appeared on Harry Belafonte's phenomenally successful album Calypso. It reached number fourteen on the Billboard Pop chart.

The lyrics for the song were written by Lord Burgess (Irving Burgie), an American-born, half-Barbadan songwriter.

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. 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 mention of Kingston, Jamaica in the song, though they only recorded it many years later, in 2006.

The line "ackee, rice, saltfish is nice" refers to the Jamaican national dish "ackee and saltfish".


Artists who have covered "Jamaica Farewell" include:

In other languages[edit]

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. Bangladeshi band Souls also sang their own translated version in early 1990s, which instantly became hit in Bangladesh.

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

German translations are Abschied von Kingston Town (Farewell from Kingston Town) by Bruce Low and Weil der Sommer ein Winter war (For the Summer was a Winter) by Nana Mouskouri.


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!"

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

This song was featured in the 2009 video game Rabbids Go Home at numerous parts of the game.

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

External links[edit]