I haven’t written a Trini music post in more than a minute, so excuse me while I get back to my island roots.
Living in the U.S and A, I find myself listening to much more hip hop, R&B, rock, and soul than ever before. But I was raised on a diet of calypso and reggae, thanks to my dad’s impressive record collection. Now that I am no longer at home, I honestly don’t listen to calypso or soca as much as I did. Sometimes I feel out of touch with my own culture, especially when it comes to knowing the hottest tunes for Carnival every year. I might not be up to date with all the new stuff, but I definitely keep the old stuff in regular rotation. I might sound like a cantankerous old Trini when I say this, but they really don’t make ’em like they used to. Classic calypso endures with me because it takes me back to growing up. If I put on the right song, it can mentally revert me to being eleven years old, watching my daddy select what disc to slide on the turntable next at our annual Old Year’s Night party. Good old days.
I remember moments like that whenever I listen to one of my favorite calypsonians of all time — Lord Nelson, AKA Nello, AKA the Disco Daddy. See this album cover here?
We had this in my house growing up. And never once did it occur to me, this man has a striking resemblance to The Penguin.
How could I have missed that for all these years? I mean, down to the monocle and all!
Lord Nelson is considered one of the architects of soca music — his songs have always been fun and vibrant — party music. On this list of the 100 top calypsos of the 20th century, they ranked La La at number 30, but one of my favorites, King Liar at # 58. King Liar is a great example of classic calypso music — it’s a slow pace and focuses on lyrics and the Trini art of picong. I think that’s where I got my love for songs that tell a story — old time calypso music was all about storytelling. This is one of the funniest ever and just about any Trini will probably agree… but when I play this stuff for my husband and he understands roughly a third of the lyrics. So he doesn’t fully appreciate the humor, but you can click here to listen for yourself.
What made Nelson a legend, was his ability to blend genres. Disco Daddy obviously was soca’s take on the Seventies — click here to watch Nello being raunchy as ever at age 77, performing that hit. In 1998 he did a remake of his Eighties hit We Like It, with Machel Montano. That song is available on Machel’s album Charge, which is unfortunately unavailable on Amazon. That is frequently the most frustrating thing about writing about the music I grew up with — it isn’t on the internet! The only available CD I could find of Lord Nelson is this Best Of collection, which isn’t being sold through any of the traditional online stores. If you like what you’re hearing, check it out.
The song that inspired me to write a whole Throwback Thursday post about a relatively obscure Caribbean music legend? Mih Lover. This is my American husband’s favorite calypso by far, which says quite a bit to me — this is a song that crosses cultural boundaries. The lyrics are clear, the pace is perfect. It makes you want to dance even if you’re not familiar with island music. And the chorus can make a whole party raise their drinks and sing along, “Oh, let’s have a good, good time.” If I had to make a soundtrack of my life, this song would definitely have to be on it. I know my island music posts hardly ever get comments… but this feels like such a part of me, I just had to share it with all of you.
Click here to add it to your musical library, and when your friends compliment you on your eclectic world music taste you can just smile coyly and say, thank you. I’m worldly like that.
And on that note, I’m goin to Chicago to “have a good good time” of my own! I’ll be back with freshness come Monday. Have a fabulous weekend, each and every one of you!