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Origins: Small Island

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GUEST,Selkie O'Mira 06 Jul 01 - 11:41 AM
GUEST 06 Jul 01 - 02:33 PM
GUEST,Selkie O'Mira 11 Jul 01 - 02:19 PM
MMario 11 Jul 01 - 02:38 PM
selkie 11 Jul 01 - 03:03 PM
selkie 17 Jul 01 - 09:48 AM
SeanM 18 Jul 01 - 12:39 AM
Brian Hoskin 18 Jul 01 - 04:56 AM
Brian Hoskin 18 Jul 01 - 05:01 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 18 May 11 - 05:59 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 18 May 11 - 09:15 PM
Joe Offer 18 May 11 - 09:16 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 18 May 11 - 09:38 PM
Joe Offer 18 May 11 - 09:39 PM
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Subject: Small Island
From: GUEST,Selkie O'Mira
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 11:41 AM

I'm looking for the author of a song from the West Indies. Song title is Small Island, first line is "Small Island, go back where you come from ..." We learned it from Harold Williams, who may have gotten it from the South Caicos. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Small Island
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 02:33 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Small Island
From: GUEST,Selkie O'Mira
Date: 11 Jul 01 - 02:19 PM

anybody know the author of "Small Island"? It goes, "Small Island, go back where you come from . . ." - we think it is from the British West Indies. Thank you!


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Subject: RE: Small Island
From: MMario
Date: 11 Jul 01 - 02:38 PM

this is the only reference I can find to it on the web.


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Subject: RE: Small Island
From: selkie
Date: 11 Jul 01 - 03:03 PM

MMario, thanks. That's at least a start. Great. I'll drop a note to Geta le Seur. At least I know it's not totally obscure! s.


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Subject: RE: Small Island
From: selkie
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 09:48 AM

Gordon (Bok) plans to record this song and it would be helpful to know the authorship. I got no response from Geta. Any ideas? Thanks. s.


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Subject: RE: Small Island
From: SeanM
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 12:39 AM

Put a call in on the Unanswered Requests Permathread. Hope it helps.

M


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Subject: RE: Small Island
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 04:56 AM

I don't know if it's of any use/relevance, but ASCAP list two songs entitled Small Island, obviously it is difficult to know from the info they give whether either is the one you are interested in and they only have an author for one version ASCAP click here

Brian


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Subject: RE: Small Island
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 05:01 AM

BMI lists one song with this title, which sounds a little more likely than that listed by ASCAP (but that's really guesswork). BMI

Brian


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Subject: Origins: 'Foolin' around with the women'
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 11 - 05:59 PM

In the Duke of Iron's cover of "Small Island", there are lines in the last verse: "He run all about and say he make his name, foolin' around with the women in Port-of-Spain." These lines refer to Lord Invader. Are they implying what I think they imply?
And could they be based on truth?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 11 - 09:15 PM

"Small Island" is a Lord Invader song from Trinidad. It is an anti-immigration song. Now I've got it in my head!


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Subject: Lyr Add: SMALL ISLAND (from Gordon Bok)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 May 11 - 09:16 PM

Gordon Bok did record this song. Here are the lyrics posted on Gordon's Website. Morwen, have you found other recordings of this song?

SMALL ISLAND
(Traditional)

Small Island, go back where you come from
Small Island, go back where you come from
When you come by the one and the two and the three
You taking our food and you leaving us hungry
Small Island, go back where you come from

Number one: no rice in this land
Number two: no rice in this land
Now when you come by the one and the two the three
You taking our food and you mash down the jungle
Small Island, go back where you come from

Winston Churchill going 'cross through this English Channel
Winston Churchill going 'cross through this English Channel
Now when you got no guns and got no revolver*
Bottle and stick kicking hell in Gibraltar
Small Island, go back where you come from



*refers to a speech Churchill made during WWII

Small Island is recorded on the Gordon Bok album Dear To Our Island (2006)

Notes: Another song I got about 40 years ago from a young shipmate, Harold Williams, from South Caicos. I had asked him how folks in the British Virgin Islands felt having their country owned by people so far away who never even saw it, and he said "Oh, we got a song about that." And sang this.

I can't find that I ever wrote it down, even in the logs I kept.


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Subject: ADD Version: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 11 - 09:38 PM

Yes I have:
The Duke of Iron's Cover:
Here are the lyrics from that recording:


SMALL ISLAND (Duke of Iron)
Written by Lord Invader (Rupert Grant) 1945

No flour, no rice in the land,
Why because there's too many small island,
They come by the one and the two and the three,
And now I find them up inside me breadfruit tree.
Oh small island, go back where you come from.

You come Trinidad in a fishing boat,
And now you wearin' a swagger coat,
I said small island go back where you really come from.

You see them Bajan (Barbadians), they the worst of all,
You hear them all call, "Me no gwine back atall."
Well in Barbados there was an old carterman,
But in Trinidad they are a great big policeman,
Oh small island, go back where you come from.

Now we have a quelbo playin' in the band,
Runnin' all about and sayin' he is a Cuban,
Play the violin is all that he know,
He run all about and say he pizzicato,
Oh small island, go back where you come from.

Now the Lord Invader is a smart fellow,
He tellin' people that he famous for Coca-Cola,
Run all about, and say he make his name,
Foolin' around with the women in Port-of-Spain.
Oh, small island go back where you come from.

It's the third and fourth lines of that last (improvised) verse that I'm wondering about.


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Subject: ADD Version: Small Island
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 May 11 - 09:39 PM

There's an excerpt of a different version of the song in a book called Bed-Stuy in Da Brownstone House: Brooklyn Topographies as an Urban Metaphor, By Irene Fowlkes. The Fowkes book includes the chorus and the "Bajans" (pronounced BAY-juns) verse (shown below). The song below is my transcription of a recording by The Calypso Carnival, Irene Lusan, and Lord Zebedee on an album titled Calypso Carnival.

SMALL ISLAND

CHORUS
Small Island, go back where you come from
Small Island, go back where you come from
You come from Trinidad in a fishing boat
And now you wearing a great big overcoat!
Small Island, go back where you really come from.

You see them Bajans, they're the worse of them all!
You hear them say, 'I ain't gwine back at all.'
They come by the one and they come by the two,
And now you see them all over Lenox Avenue.
Small Island, go back where you really come from.

Back home she drink rum and coconut water,
Standin in the alley, tellin' you what you oughta;
They come over here, drinkin' scotch and soda,
And they she walks around with a perfume odor.
Small Island, go back where you really come from.

CHORUS

The other (?) West Indians, see them all around,
With American dollars, no more shilling and pound
They have Cadillac and they have diamond rings
And some of the men, they are great big number kings,
Small Island, go back where you really come from.

CHORUS

Down home, she wear a house frock all the time
She look so sad, you wonder what's on she mind
She come over here wearin' silk and laces,
And now she get drunk in exclusive places
Small Island, go back where you really come from.

CHORUS (TWICE)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 11 - 09:41 PM

Is that Gordon Bok citation above claiming it is traditional? I always thought Invader composed it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 11 - 09:44 PM

Joe, that's funny. The Duke of Iron version is almost the same as that version you posted, only without the New York references.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 May 11 - 10:17 PM

Hi, Morwen -
I'm surprised that Gordon didn't come up with the attribution to Lord Invader / Rupert Grant. It's listed under Grant's name at the Harry Fox Agency songfile.com service - but there are several songs titled "Small Island," with different songwriters.

It is devilishly hard to verify the authorship of Calypso songs - so even though it may be claimed by Lord Invader, what proof have we? Most of the well-known calypso songs were claimed by either Lord Invader or Lord Burgess (Irving Burgie), but is that true? Besides, Bok's version is quite different from the version you attribute to Grant. It would be interesting to hear Harry Belafonte's view of this.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 11 - 10:22 PM

Yes, for one thing the Lord Invader version is anti-immigration, and I feel horribly guilty whenever I sing it. Joe, do you believe that the lines about "made his name, foolin' around with the women in Port-of-Spain" in the Duke's recording refer to Invader's promiscuity?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 May 11 - 10:26 PM

Oh, I'm sure it refers to his promiscuity - whether it's true or just kidding, I don't know. I'm still keeping my eyes open for information on the calypso singers of the mid-20th century. Seems to me there should be lots of information on them, because calypso music was so popular for a time.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 11 - 10:29 PM

I don't think Harry Belafonte would want to record this. For one thing this song has an anti-immigration theme. Part of Irving Burgie's songwriting is based on his arrangement of older songs. Even some of his original songs borrow other tunes.
i.e. "Jamaica Farewell" is "Iron Bar" slowed down, with different lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 May 11 - 10:35 PM

I dunno, Morwen-
Bok's version seems to oppose the British presence on the island, and the other versions oppose islanders moving from one place to another (or to New York). Which is the authentic version, or are they both authentic?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 11 - 10:35 PM

Well, just look at the lyrics: "Run all about, and say he make his name". Emphasis on "say he make". It's not the Duke who is claiming that Invader is promiscuous, it's Lord Invader himself who is claiming that he is promiscuous. Some of it may be exaggeration, but I've got a feeling that most of it is true.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 11 - 10:38 PM

And in fact, this promiscuity was probably the source of the money he didn't earn from singing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 11 - 10:52 PM

And as to which one is more authentic... to find that out, we'd have to find out whether or not this songs appears in books of songs collected from the British Virgin Islands.. even if there are collections of songs from those islands and how old they are.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 May 11 - 11:35 PM

Morwin, I think the verse is a Duke of Iron alteration, to make it apply to Lord Invader.
As for the promiscuity being a source of money, do you think Lord Invader to be a gigolo? I get the impression the he was spending his money on the women, not earning it....
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 May 11 - 11:43 PM

Joe, maybe "promiscuity" isn't the right word. I think i chose the wrong word. In Trinidad, according to my research, There used to be a phenomenon of the "saga boy", a pimp/procurer type, who procured prostitutes in the red-light district of Port-of-Spain. I read a passage in a book that implies Lord Invader may have been a procurer much like the "pimps" in gangsta rap.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 11 - 12:13 AM

The "saga boys" (actually a 1940s term, btw) didn't exactly "earn" the money they got from the women they were involved with. They were given it. They lived off the earnings of the street women. "And if you see them around the corner, to approach them don't you bother".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 May 11 - 12:14 AM

Hi, Morwen-

What books have you found about calypso singers and songwriters?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 11 - 12:21 AM

There's a book called "Caliban and the Yankees", only one I can think of right now. I've only seen it on Google Books. You might try and check Amazon. com to see if they've got it. It's not specifically about calypsonians, although it does spend a lot of time dealing with calypsos about the American occupation during WWII.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 11 - 12:23 AM

If Lord Invader definitely was a pimp, does that change your view of him? Just curious... how does the morality of a singer/songwriter affect performance of their songs?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 11 - 12:25 AM

*or occupation*


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 May 11 - 01:21 AM

I dunno, Morwen. I suppose that even pimps can be viewed as folk heroes outside their own culture, but the fact of the matter is that they are in the business of selling the sexual services of women - often against the will of the women involved.
I suppose it all depends on what he did and how he treated the women in his employ. Prostitution is a bad thing - but sometimes, people have no other way to make a living.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 11 - 01:43 AM

Since the stereotype of a pimp as physically violent is so prevalent in popular culture- I guess a man who wasn't physically violent would count as treating women well? I somehow really doubt (if he was a pimp) Invader was physically violent, even if he could be hurtful with his language/ insults, which is bad, but bad in a different way- there's a cover of his version of "Brownskin girl" performed by the Mighty Terror on YouTube.
"Girl you can't fool me like that, tell me how a monkey can make a cat! You made an error to be in love with that Yankee feller".
If I was writing historical fiction about him (which I may well do when I have the time), I would take this personality characteristic into account.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 11 - 02:35 AM

Back to the song... is it possible that "Small Island" travelled to the British Virgin Islands through the singing of Trinidadian calypsonians performing there during WWII and was adapted into the version that Gordon Bok heard from Harold Williams? The reference to Churchill's speech could suggest that.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 11 - 02:42 AM

In the process, the song is changed from an anti-immigration protest into a protest against colonialism: telling the British to "get out and go home" .


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 11 - 02:49 AM

EDIT: "British Virgin Islands" to "Turks and Caicos Islands".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 11 - 05:12 AM

Anyone else want to talk about "Small Island"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 19 May 11 - 06:34 PM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 11 - 05:32 PM

I have to admit that the Lord Invader version of this song is not something I'd feel comfortable singing in public without an introduction


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: Kent Davis
Date: 20 May 11 - 11:01 PM

Here are some half-remembered fragments of a song that perhaps is related to "Small Island". I think I learned it in about 1970, in 4th grade music class, Edisto Elementary, Orangeburg County, South Carolina. It was, I believe, in our music book and was, I also believe, presented as a folk song from Jamaica, or perhaps from Trinidad.

Small island boy, go back to your bornin' country.
Small island boy, go back to your bornin' country.
You come from Antigua with your foot full of [chiggoe?]
You come ...... to [sing to?] my daughter.
Small island boy, go back to your bornin's country.

Mr. Google seems unacquainted with the song. Anyone recognize it or have more information? Is it a precursor to "Small Island"?

Kent


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 11 - 11:12 PM

Kent Davis, do you happen to remember the tune to the fragment you posted? That might help the experts here figure it out. To me it seems similar.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 11 - 11:16 PM

Even down to "go back..." "where you come from", "your bornin country". I can imagine this being sung to a variant of the tune for the chorus of "Small Island". Anyone on the forum familiar with this fragment? It's intriguing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: Kent Davis
Date: 21 May 11 - 07:22 PM

Of musical notation, I am as ignorant as a new-born babe, and my ear has been described as "tin" but, as near as I can tell, the first line of the song I remember went like this:

Small island boy, go back to your bornin' country.
Do Mi Fa   Re La So Fa Do   Mi So   Mi Fa

Kent


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 May 11 - 07:30 PM

Thanks for that. Is anyone here familiar with this fragment?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: GUEST,Lade
Date: 22 Aug 11 - 11:42 PM

Kent Davis!

I remember THAT song! I was also in 4th grade-ish (1972+/-) at an American school in Lagos, Nigeria of all places! The words were written right out in the class songbook. And by today's standards about as un-politically correct an elementary school song as you can imagine .... very catchy, I've googled the 'eck out of the internet trying to find it. The few words I do remember (almost clearly) are ...

Baizan (or Beijan) boy, go back to your bornin' country
Small Island boy, go back to your bornin' country
You come to my house and eat all my food
Leaving my father in a very bad mood
Baizan boy, go back to your bornin country ...

There were more borderline insulting (rhyming) lyrics, but I can't remember them right now - thanks for confirming that I'm not imagining things!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 04:43 AM

Lade, "Beijan" should be "Bajan" (Barbadian). I'd also like to find the origin of this particular song that you and Kent Davis remember.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: GUEST,Lade
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 10:07 AM

Thanks for the Bajan correction (my phonetical bad!). The song came from the song same book hat had this (pre women's lib?!) song - "Pack She Back"

Oh Pack she back to she ma
Oh, pack she back to she ma
Such a pretty little girl like Jessie Mahon
Pack she back to she ma

A pretty little girl name Jessie Mahon
She lazy since she was born
De girl couldn’ cook, she won’ read a book
So pack she back to she ma

I think the the book also had Thomas Allen's "Erie Canal Song" - I've got a mule, and her name is Sal ... She's a good old worker and a good old pal ..."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 05:57 PM

That's an old Barbadian folk song, the one you quoted. "Pack She Back To She Ma." Yeah, it's not exactly correct to comment on a woman's inability to do housework now. If someone told me I was lazy because I couldn't do housework, I'd think they were joking or misogynist.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: GUEST,qtwf
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 07:26 PM

Perhaps a side point?
Perhaps irrelevant?
Perhaps you all know all about it?

But I've heard - or think I've heard - that Jamaicans consider every other island in the Caribbean to be a 'Small Island' and to call any Caribbean person not from Jamaica to be a 'Small Islander'

Probably not helpful, but nobody else seems to have mentioned it.

Cheers,

Q


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 07:53 AM

Not just Jamaicans. Trinidadians also (according to this song) consider any Caribbean non-Trinidadian (expect for Jamaicans) to be "Small Islanders."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: GUEST,Lade
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 02:15 PM

Yes! I wrote a line earlier, guess it didn't get posted. I've been looking for that song long before these posts! Will do some more research into song books from that (70's) era. Probably try asking at my elementary school library (in case they still have it) ... since (thanks to Kent Davis) I'm now sure is not a figment of my imagination.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: GUEST,Terri M.
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 11:04 AM

I learned a very similar song in grade school (I am now 45!) in New Jersey . . . The version I learned went something like this:

"Bajan boy, go back to your borning country/Small island boy, go back to your borning country/You come from Antigua with your foot full of chigger/Bring your guitar to sing to my daughter/Bajan boy, go back to your borning country"

No one I sing it to recalls it--not even my twin sister! I, too, am trying to find out more about the song but cannot. Your post is the closest I have come to knowing that I did not, in fact, dream it up.

Good luck. Please post whatever you find.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 09:32 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: GUEST,Lade
Date: 07 Sep 11 - 10:06 PM

Thanks Terri! (and Kent Davis). So good to know I'm not/we're not crazy. I really think its the same song - and from the same elementary school songbook! I do remember it had more than one verse, looks like you two remember the same one and I remember the one about coming to "eat all my food". I'm in DC - and have a reader card at the Library of Congress. Will try to visit/look there this week - or next and post any feedback.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 09:28 PM

Like so many others on this thread, I learned the song in music class in perhaps the second or third grade (mid-late 1970s, Madison Heights, Michigan). I can recall the melody clearly, and the verse was:

Baijun boy, go back to your borning country
Small island boy, go back to your borning country
You come from Antigua with your foot full of chigger
Bring your guitar to sing to my mother
Baijun boy, go back to your borning country

I seem to recall that the spelling in the grade-school songbook was 'Baijun', perhaps to help with pronunciation.

I play guitar and could notate some of the chord changes from memory, but I don't read music well and, therefore, could not provide expert notation. The cadence was:

Baijun boy______ go back to your bor_NING_coun_TRY
Small island boy______ go back to your bor_NING_coun_TRY

Dan Reynolds


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: GUEST,Geoff
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 03:38 AM

I have a Rounder CD 1054, Calypso Breakaway, which has lyrics and titles for 20 tracks - and then has 4 more unlisted, of which Small island is one. So I don't know who its by, but the words are different from the above. Curiously another unlisted track is calling for West Indies confederation ...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: Gda Music
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 03:22 PM

I have ROUNDER 1054 (cassette) listing 20 titles (possibly as the CD?)
The following 4 DECCA may just be those "bonus" tracks referred to?

*Small Island* - Invader -          DECCA M30732 - US Issue No. 34002
*Carenage Water* - Invader -       DECCA M30732 - US Issue No. 34005
*Dock Site Baby* - Invader -       DECCA M30731 - US Issue No. 34002
*The Soldiers Came & Broke Up My Life* - Invader

DECCA UK M30700 Series
All 4 Recorded with Lionel Belasco and his Orchestra in NY 21/5/45.

as listed West Indian Gramophone Records in Britain: 1927-1950
John Cowley
Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations
University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL   (February 1985)

GJ


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: GUEST,Anne
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 08:09 PM

I have been trying to find the lyrics to that song,I thought it was called Baijan Boy, for any years. Don't ask me why. But I also learned it in grade school, where nearly every one seems to have. The song just keeps popping into my head for no known reason and it drives me crazy. It seems to be the same for several others. Guess it doesn't want to be forgotten.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: GUEST,Ellemir
Date: 24 Nov 15 - 12:14 AM

I also learned it in elementary school, in Winnetka, Illinois c. 1963. It must have been in one of our songbooks.
Baijan boy, go back to your born-in country.
Small island boy, go back to your born-in country.
You come to my house and eat-a my food
And leave this old man in a very bad mood ...
I still remember the melody.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Small Island
From: GUEST,Guest: cathio
Date: 18 May 17 - 12:26 PM

I learned this song in 1964 in my 7th grade music class at O. A. Peters Intermediate School, in Garden Grove, CA. The song haunts me because no one I know has ever heard of it. It was called Baijun Boy and it was catchy and fun. Since Calypso music was very popular in the 60s, it was our favorite song to sing. The lyrics were pretty much those posted by Terri M. I would love to hear it again, or at least find a copy of it from the old song book.


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