Rum and Coca-Cola
DESCRIPTION: "Since the Yankees came to Trinidad" they give mothers and daughters "a better price." The song gives examples of the disruption caused by the G.I.s
AUTHOR: Rupert Grant ("Lord Invader")
EARLIEST DATE: 1943 ("Victory Calypsos 1943 Souvenir Collection": see NOTES)
LONG DESCRIPTION: The Yankees have Trinidad girls "going mad": they treat the girls nice "and they give them a better price." "They buy rum and coca cola Go down Point Cumana." Mothers and daughters are "working for the Yankee dollar." The singer's girl friend is taken by her mother into a car with some soldiers. A bride runs off with a soldier on her wedding day and her husband goes mad. A brothel is raided and the girls are drinking rum and coca cola.
KEYWORDS: sex drink humorous nonballad soldier
FOUND IN: Trinidad
REFERENCES (2 citations):
ADDITIONAL: Donald R. Hill, _Calypso Calaloo_ (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993), pp. 239-240, "Rum and Coca Cola" (1 text; 1950 version)
Lion and Atilla, Victory Calypsos 1943 Souvenir Collection, in Kevin Burke, "Calypso on Trial" at http://www.rumandcocacolareader.com/RumAndCocaCola/Calypso_on_Trial.html accessed February 22, 2015 (1943 version)
Andrews Sisters with Vic Shoen and His Orchestra, "Rum and Coca-Cola" (1944, on Decca 18636A)
Lord Invader and Gerald Clark and the Band, "Rum and Coca-Cola" (1999, on "Calypso at Midnight," Rounder CD 11661-1840-2 [recorded 1946])
Lord Invader, "Rum and Coca Cola" on "Calypso Calaloo", (1993, on Rounder CD 1105 [reissue of 1950])
NOTES [580 words]: I have included this song because of the part it plays in the history of commercial calypso music. For the context see the discussion of "Hold 'im Joe." The song was a popular road march in Trinidad in 1943, presented at a calypso "tent" by M. H. Khan. At the time there were thousands of U. S. troops stationed in Trinidad and, not being confined to base, they frequented the calypso "tents." The story of Morey Amsterdam's visit to Trinidad as part of a USO show, his picking up the song, and its commercial recording the next year by the Andrews Sisters, with the song attributed to Amsterdam, is told by Hill, pp. 234-240, and Kevin Burke in "Calypso on Trial." A plagiarism suit was eventually settled in favor of Grant ("Lord Invader").
The Andrews Sisters sang the lines as "rum and Cocahhhhh-Cola, working for the Yankee dollahhhhhh." In his 1950 rendition, Invader sang "We haven't got no bad speaking Trinidadian / We never said, 'cacahh cola' / Neither did we say, 'Yankee dollahh' / We sang...."
In 1950, Edmundo Ros recorded the derivative, partly attributed to Morey Amsterdam, "Rum and Limonada."
By the time of the 1946 Town Hall Concert, "Rum and Coca-Cola" was universally known, and the Andrews Sisters' version made a point of it being a "calypso" song. So, when in 1947, there was a "Calypso Carnival" in New York's Carnegie Hall one of the headliners was "Lord Invader, author of 'Rum and Coca Cola'" ("Calypso Carnival in N.Y. on May 8," The Pittsburgh Courier, May 3, 1947, p. 17).
In 1967 Prince Buster recorded a rocksteady version relocated to Jamaica. Only the chorus and tune of the chorus remain of Invader's song. Mother and daughter are "fighting for the Yankee dollar" and "body line" shows up in the verse: "If you come down to Jamaica/ The girls there make you feel up/ The wind and wine and body line/ You'll give them all that you have in kind" (Prince Buster, "Rum and Coca Cola" Blue Beat 45 rpm BB-330 A, 1965).
There is another aspect of the "Rum and Coca-Cola" story that has to do with tune sharing. Before Invader's case was settled there was another involving the Amsterdam version. Lionel Belasco had already published the sheet music of "L'Annee Passee," which he may have heard in the street and copied, or written himself. In any case, as you can hear (Patrick Jones, "L'Annee Passee" on "Calypso Calaloo," (1993, on Rounder CD 1105 [reissue of 1950]), the tune of the verse of that song, but not the chorus, is very close to the tune of the verse of "Rum and Coca Cola." The copyright holder of Belasco's sheet music won his case also (Hill, pp. 234-240). Hill writes, "... Invader conformed to the standard procedure of recycling old tunes with new lyrics.... In my opinion, no one had a claim to the tune of 'Rum and Coca Cola' -- it was in fact the Martinique folk tune [introduced in Trinidad in the 1890's] (Hill, pp. 234-235). The point is made again in the discussion of "Hold 'im Joe" that tunes in the West Indies, as in the Appalachians and elsewhere, are often recycled. Here's another example: between 1925 and 1928, West Indian Sam Manning recorded three tracks using virtually the same tune and one other very close to those ("Lignum Vitae" , "Emily" , "Lita" ; close to "Sly [Slide] Mongoose" ; n.d., on "Sam Manning Volume 1 (Recorded in New York 1924-1927)," Jazz Oracle CD BDW 8028; n.d., on "Sam Manning Volume 2 (Recorded in New York 1927-1930)," Jazz Oracle CD BDW 8029). - BS
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