Monday, October 8, 2012

A couple new ZOMBY! cartoons, plus a musical tribute to Mr. Christopher Columbus!

First, let's get the unpleasantness out of the way...


Quite amusing, I'm sure. Now, then, let's continue.
Columbus: And he was handsome, too!

Today, October 8, is Columbus Day. That used to mean something in this country, friends. Well, no, that's not true. For as long as I can remember, Columbus Day has always been one of those B.S. holidays that postal workers and some lucky school kids had off but which no one ever really gave a second thought. I have the day off today myself, which is why I can lounge in bed and write this very post. But it's safe to say that in my lifetime, Christopher Columbus' legacy has completely disintegrated. We weren't exactly taught to love Chrissy C as kids, but we still regarded him as a more or less a hero. After all, he "discovered America." Except, of course, he didn't. Other explorers had been here before, and besides, the land was already, uh, occupied. All Columbus really brought to America was disease, genocide, and oppression. Nowadays, I'm told, Columbus is treated as a villain in our elementary schools. Kids now think of him as a one-man combination of Hitler and the Black Plague. And who knows? Maybe that's what he deserves. But what a bummer for Columbus! He made it as far as the 1990s with his reputation intact -- 500 years! -- only to see it come crashing down in the last two decades. I honestly didn't see that coming for the poor guy. In fact, if I were to name the two societal trends which have surprised me most during my time on this planet, I would say the widespread acceptance of tattoos and the complete downgrading of Christopher Columbus.

But what a run he had before that, huh? In order to commemorate the Columbus that was (but really wasn't), I'd like to present this selection of songs written in his honor.

First up is a song called, simply, "Christopher Columbus." It was written in the 1930s by Chu Berry and Andy Razaf and has been recorded by many jazz and pop performers over the years. It's often done as an instrumental,  which is how I first heard it (in a recording by Benny Goodman), but here it is with words. And even better, it's done by one of the seminal groups of the Twentieth Century, the Ink Spots, a vocal quartet whose sound was a major influence on R&B and rock. Give this one a chance. It's really catchy.



Next up is a selection by legendary American satirist, voice-over artist, and adman Stan Freberg. It's called "Christopher Columbus Discovers America," and it's a track from his landmark 1961 LP, Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Volume One: The Early Years, a musical in album form which covered our nation's history from 1492 to 1783 through songs and sketches. This portion includes one such song, "It's a Round Round World," performed by Freberg himself as Columbus and character actor Jesse White (the original Maytag repairman!) as King Ferdinand.



This next one is not so familiar to me. It's an educational song about Chris, and it's credited only to the mysterious Miss Healy. I'm  including it here because it's largely representative of the image I had of Columbus as a kid. You know, "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue" and all that jazz.



And last? Well, it's a song by Guy Mitchell (1927-1999), a Detroit-born crooner who was intensely popular and successful in the 1950s in the US and the UK but who is all but forgotten today. This particular number, titled simply "Christopher Columbus," hit #27 on the charts back in 1951. It was just one of his nine hit records that year, and Guy's monster hit ("Singing the Blues") was still five years away.



It didn't seem right to end the article without presenting the opposing side, so here to do just that is Winston Rodney, OD a.k.a. Burning Spear, legendary Jamaican reggae singer and Rastafarian evangelist. Since this song makes heavy use of Jamaican Patois, I have included a transcription of the lyrics beneath the clip. The refrain is unmistakable, though: Christopher Columbus is a damned blasted liar. We sometimes forget that Christopher Columbus is given credit for "discovering" Jamaica, too.



I and I old I know
I and I old I say
I and I reconsider
I and I see upfully that
Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar
Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar
Yes Jah

He's saying that, he is the first one

who discover Jamaica
I and I say that,
What about the Arawak Indians and the few Black man
Who were around here, before him
The Indians couldn't hang on no longer
Here comes first Black man and woman and children,
In a Jam Down Land ya
A whole heap of mix up and mix up
A whole heap a ben up, ben up,
We have fi straighten out,
Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar
Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar
Yes Jah

What a long way from home

I and I longing to go home
Within a Red, Green, and Gold Robe
Come on Twelve Tribe of Israel
Come on Twelve Tribe of Israel
Out a Jam Down land ya
A whole heap of mix up mix up
A whole heap a ben up, ben up,
Come on Twelve Tribe of Israel
Come on Twelve Tribe of Israel
Out a Jam Down land ya  Yes, Jah!
 

Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar

Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar
Yes Jah, he is a liar
Yes Jah, he is a liar
Yes Jah, he is a liar
Columbus is a liar
Yes jah Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar
Columbus

1 comment: