DESCRIPTION: The singer wants to know why "night food" is so expensive. One night a lady on her veranda invites him in for "warmth and food inside." They get into bed. She offers to "scratch your head." He is puzzled and says he wants to eat now. She drives him away.
AUTHOR: Everard Williams
EARLIEST DATE: 1955-1956 (Bedasse)
KEYWORDS: sex food humorous
FOUND IN: West Indies(Jamaica)
Alerth Bedasse and Calypso Quartet, "Night Food" (1956, on Kalypso 78 rpm XX01, 2001, "Boogu Yagga Gal," Heritage CD HTCD45)
NOTES [499 words]: This is the story of an innocent man who has heard that "night food" is very expensive and wants to find out why. When a prostitute invites him up to her place saying "this night food is very warm and sweet" he comes up. He asks for a knife and fork and she asks "how can any human be so dark? The food is right here in the bed." When she sees that he really expects to eat "she jumped up and then turned on the light And say Half a man get out of me sight."
I have included this song because of the part it plays in the history of commercial Jamaican music. For the context see the discussion of "Hold 'im Joe." It seems mild enough when compared to traditional Jamaican songs like "Fan Mi Solja Man" and "Lemme Go, Melda Marcy" but the people that were offended didn't care about that. They were upper-class Jamaicans interested in having music produced for tourists that wouldn't shame them.
"The record became an overnight sensation, but not without controversy. Despite a significant amount of public support for these records [including "Night Food"], Tacius Golding, the Member of the House of Representatives for Western St. Catherine, introduced a motion into the House (prompted, in part, by a resolution made by the Mother's Union Council and presented at a meeting of the Synod of the Church of England) in early 1956 to ban these records. The motion was quickly supported by religious and political leaders and in April, Will Isaacs, the Minister of Trade and Industry ... called for a boycott of stores that carried 'certain brands of calypso records.' Despite what I'm told was robust interest in these rude 'hits,' growing Parliamentary pressure caused a momentary loss of public confidence in this local calypso music that made [Jamaican] producers and artists more careful about the kinds of records they produced" (Daniel T. Neely, "Calling All Singers, Musicians and Speechmakers: Mento Aesthetics and Jamaica's Early Recording Inductry" in Caribbean Quarterly Vol. 53, No. 4 (December 2007 (made available online by JSTOR)), p. 11).
The writer, Everard Williams, responded to Isaacs's attack. He said he was sorry "if my song is causing trouble" but it was his first hit after first trying "very high-class calypsos" and then lowering his standards a little without making much headway. "I didn't make a hit until I wrote 'Night Food.'" He says he is a poor man just trying to make a living and "I thought I was giving real entertainment to the public -- because they accepted it -- but it seems that I was mistaken. But I am going to write different calypsos now and hope the public will think them very clean; but since it is my living I hope they will buy them as well as they do the ones some say are not so good." (Mike Garnice,"Chin's Calypso Sextet, Alerth Bedasse, Everard Williams and Ivan Chin's Label" in Mento Music site at http://www.mentomusic.com/ (specifically http://www.mentomusic.com/chins.htm last revised July 8, 2014, accessed February 22, 2015). - BS
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