Jamaica Farewell (3:03)

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“Jamaica Farewell” is a famous calypso about the beauties of the West Indian Islands.

The lyrics for the song were written by Lord Burgess (Irving Burgie). Lord Burgess was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926. His mother was from Barbados and his father was from Virginia. The song first appeared on Harry Belafonte’s phenomenally successful album “Calypso”.

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, and it is indisputable that it was Belafonte who popularized the song outside the Caribbean Islands. Burgess acknowledged his use of the tune of another calypso, “Iron Bar”.

Other well-known singers of “Jamaica Farewell” include Sir Lancelot, Jimmy Buffett and Carly Simon.

The term “ackee rice” found in the lyrics refers to the fruit of a tropical tree indigenous to the Ivory Coast and Gold Coast of West Africa; taken to Jamaica in 1793. It has some poisonous properties, yet if properly prepared the fruit is often used as a food additive.

This song has been translated into many languages. For example, in Bangla, 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.

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