Friday, May 26, 2006

It's strange how hearing about Desmond Dekker's dying comes as a shock. He's not someone I thought of a lot, never having owned one of his records and not knowing anything about his life other than his having come from Jamaica. But hearing his one song that was a big hit during the 60s, "Israelites", on the radio today brought me up abruptly in a way that almost none of the other popular music of that period does.

A small, white, New England farm town didn't prepare me for ska. I don't remember the first time I heard it but can't imagine that it didn't make a huge impression. That rhythm, the intricate guitar lines and Desmond Dekker's high tenor voice, those entirely unfamiliar lines jumping from one modal implication to another. And then ending in the phrase "the Israelite". I didn't understand the lyrics, our radio was an old plaid AM radio with one speaker that you didn't' t think of in terms of response. Maybe that made it more impressive.

I didn't follow ska other than to have heard some of the well known bands popular in the 80s. I wasn't a great fan of reggae, with rhythms that seem inflexible to me. But Desmond Dekker must have meant more to me than I knew. I am sorry that his career had a down period, he was a very good musician and singer. I am glad to hear that when he died he had come back and a lot of work was lined up. Musicians like to hear about musicians getting paid work. I'm sorry that he died at such a relatively young age.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?