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Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) Guitar & TABS sheet music

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Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) Guitar & TABS sheet music – Traditional Jamaican folk song

‘Banana Boat Song’ is a traditional Jamaican mento. It was popularized by the Jamaican singer Harry Belafonte in 1956.

The song recounts that some workers, after having loaded a boat with bananas during the night, wait for payment to return home.

Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) Guitar & TABS sheet music - Traditional Jamaican folk song

It is a call and response work song, from the point of view of dockworkers working the night shift loading bananas onto ships. The lyrics describe how daylight has come, their shift is over, and they want their work to be counted up so that they can go home.

The song originated as a Jamaican folk song by an unknown composer, and about which relatively little is known. What is proven is that it arose with the development of banana activity on the island.

It has been thought that Jamaican banana growers sang it, with a repeated melody and refrain (call and response); for each letter of the set, the workers had to answer.

There were numerous versions of lyrics, some probably improvised on the spot by the singers. The song was probably created around the second half of the 19th century or the first half of the 20th century, where there was an increase in the banana trade in Jamaica.

The song was first recorded by Trinidadian singer Edric Connor and his band ‘Edric Connor and the Caribbeans’ on the 1952 album Songs From Jamaica; the song was called ‘Day Dah Light’.

Belafonte based his version on Connor from 1952 and Louise Bennett in 1954.

In 1955, American singer/songwriters Lord Burgess and William Attaway wrote a version of the lyrics for the Colgate Comedy Hour, in which the song was performed by Harry Belafonte.

Belafonte recorded the song for RCA Victor and this is the version best known to listeners today, as it reached number five on the Billboard charts in 1957 and later became Belafonte’s signature song.

The second side of Belafonte’s 1956 Calypso album opens with ‘Star O’, a song that refers to the end of the day shift when the first star is seen in the sky. During recording, when asked for its title, Harry spells out, ‘Day Done Light’.

Also in 1956, folk singer Bob Gibson, who had traveled to Jamaica and heard the song, taught his version to the folk band The Tarriers. They recorded a version of that song that incorporated the chorus from ‘Hill and Gully Rider’, another popular Jamaican song.

This release became his biggest hit, reaching number four on the charts, where it surpassed Belafonte’s version. The Tarriers version was recorded by Shirley Bassey in 1957 and became a UK hit.

The Tarriers, or some subset of the group’s three members (Erik Darling, Bob Carey, and Alan Arkin, later known as an actor) are sometimes credited as the song’s writers; his version combines elements of another song and was therefore created anew.

Other performers of the song include Michael Jackson, Shirley Bassey, Mina, Taj Mahal, The Kinks, Our Little World, and Manu Chao. In Mexico, it was popularized in the 1960s by Johnny Laboriel and Los Rebeldes del Rock as ‘Bote de bananas’.

The Banana Boat song was used by Tim Burton in the soundtrack of his movie Beetlejuice and also for the promotion of the Chilean channel Mega.

In the documentary that narrates how it was done “We are The World”, this theme is performed in front of Harry Belafonte himself by dozens of famous American singers, including Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Dan Aykroyd, Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder y John Oates.

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Other Notable covers

In 1980, Canadian children’s singer Raffi covered the song, releasing it as a single from his album Baby Beluga.

The Fontane Sisters recorded the Tarriers version in a recording of the song for Dot Records in 1956. It charted to number 13 in the US in 1957.

Sarah Vaughan and an orchestra conducted by David Carroll recorded a jazzy version for Mercury Records in 1956, credited to Darling, Carey, and Arkin of the Tarriers. It charted at number 19 on the US Top 40 charts in 1957.


Shirley Bassey recorded the Tarriers version in 1957 for 4 Star Records, which became her first single to chart in the U.K., peaking at number 8. It later appeared on her 1959 album The Bewitching Miss Bassey.


Steve Lawrence recorded the Tarriers version in 1957 for Coral Records, with a chorus and orchestra directed by Dick Jacobs. It peaked at number 18 on the US Top 40 charts that year.

Lyrics

Day-o, day-o
Daylight come and we want go home
Day, is a day, is a day, is a day, is a day, is a day-o
Daylight come and we want go home

Work all night on a drink of rum
(Daylight come and we want go home)
Stack banana ’til the morning come
(Daylight come and we want go home)

Come Mister tally man, tally me banana
(Daylight come and we want go home)
Come Mister tally man, tally me banana
(Daylight come and we want go home)

Lift six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
(Daylight come and we want go home)
Six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
(Daylight come and we want go home)

Day, is a day-o
(Daylight come and we want go home)
Day, is a day, is a day, is a day, is a day, is a day-o
(Daylight come and we want go home)

A beautiful bunch of ripe banana
(Daylight come and we want go home)
Hide the deadly black tarantula
(Daylight come and we want go home)

Lift six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
(Daylight come and we want go home)
Six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
(Daylight come and we want go home)

Day, is a day-o
(Daylight come and we want go home)
Day, is a day, is a day, is a day, is a day, is a day-o
(Daylight come and we want go home)

Come Mister tally man, tally me banana
(Daylight come and we want go home)
Come Mister tally man, tally me banana
(Daylight come and we want go home)

Day-o, day-o
(Daylight come and we want go home)
Day, is a day, is a day, is a day, is a day, is a day-o
(Daylight come and we want go home)

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Parodies and alternate lyrics

“Banana Boat (Day-O)”, a parody by Stan Freberg and Billy May released in 1957 by Capitol Records, features ongoing disagreement between an enthusiastic Jamaican lead singer and a bongo-playing beatnik (Peter Leeds) who “don’t dig loud noises” and has the catchphrase “You’re too loud, man”. When he hears the lyric about the “deadly black taranch-la” (actually the highly venomous Brazilian wandering spider, commonly dubbed “banana spider”), the beatnik protests, “No, man! Don’t sing about spiders, I mean, oooo! like I don’t dig spiders”.

Freberg’s version was popular, reaching number 25 on the US Top 40 charts in 1957, and received much radio airplay; Harry Belafonte reportedly disliked the parody. Stan Freberg’s version was the basis for the jingle for the TV advert for the UK chocolate bar Trio from the mid-1980s to the early to mid-1990s, the lyrics being, “Trio, Trio, I want a Trio and I want one now. Not one, not two, but three things in it; chocolatey biscuit and a toffee taste too.”

Dutch comedian André van Duin released his version in 1972 called Het bananenlied: the banana song. This song asks repetitively why bananas are bent. It reaches the conclusion that if the bananas weren’t bent, they wouldn’t fit into their peels.


German band Trio performed a parody with “Bommerlunder” (a German schnapps) substituted for the words “daylight come” in the 1980s.


The Serbian comedy rock band the Kuguars, consisting of famous Serbian actors, covered the song in 1998, with lyrics in Serbian dedicated to the, at the time, Yugoslav national soccer team player Dejan “Dejo” Savićević. The song became a nationwide hit, and a promotional video for the song had been recorded.


In their 1994 album, the comedy music group Grup Vitamin included a Turkish cover of the song, parodying the macho culture in the country.


The Swedish humor show Rally, which aired between 1995 and 2002 in Sveriges Radio P3 made a version called “Hey Mr. Taliban”, which speaks about Osama Bin Laden.


In 1988–89, Belafonte’s children, David and Gina, parodied the song in a commercial about the Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo. (David was singing “Trofeo” in the same style as “Day-O” in the song).


A parody of this song was used in an E-Trade commercial that first aired on Super Bowl LII.


Food manufacturer Kellogg’s parodied the song in their 2001 television advertisement for their breakfast cereal Fruit ‘n Fibre.


A 1991 Brazilian commercial utilized a parody of the song to promote their bubble gum brand “Bubbaloo Banana” with lyrics dedicated to the banana flavored candy.


For an ad campaign that started in 1991, now-defunct Seattle-based department store chain The Bon Marché used a version of the song with alternate lyrics in their commercials.


In November 2019, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert modified the lyrics to make fun of Mike Pompeo, saying “Pompe-O, Pompe-O. Hearing come and I wanna go home.”

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