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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Caribbean Song "One Solja Man" (example, lyrics, and comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents lyrics, video, and comments about the Caribbean song "One Solja" man.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic reasons.

My thanks to the unknown composer/s of this song. My thanks also to the collector of this song, and those who have published the lyrics of & notes about this song. Thanks also to the performers on the featured video and the uploader of this video.

All rights remain with their owners.

FEATURED VIDEO
Jamaican Folk Song/ The Carifolk Singers



Uploaded by hollythomas18 on Jul 9, 2010

LYRICS: ONE SOLJA MAN
Verse 1
One solja man come fe court me,
Me sey me no ha' nobody,
Him gimme one shillin' an' quatty.
Me tek i' buy silk an' satin.

Verse 2
Me wash i' me starch i' me iron i',
Me pred i' pon pingwing macka,
An one ole un-conscionable John Crow
Come fling i' eena crevice an' corner.

Verse 3
No tear i' Jeremiah, no tear i',
No tear i' Jeremiah, no tear i',
No tear i' Jeremiah, no tera i',
No tear up me silk an' satin.

Verse 4
A weh yuh dah weel an' tun me,
A weh yuh dah weel an' tun me,
Yuh mussa wan' me fe go fall dung,
An' lick me belly pon tambourina.

Solja- Soldier
Ha'- Have
Quatty- Penny halfpenny
Pred- Spread
Pingwing macka- Cactus
John Crow- Jamaican scavenger bird, but here used in a derogatory sense, alluding to 'Jeremiah'.
Eena- In
Weh- Why
Mussa- Must
Fe go fall dung- To fall down
Tambourina- Tambourine

Also sung as 'One Bungo Man', Bungo meaning an African.
*May be sung as: 'Him gimme one cock-y'eye fourbit', 'fourbit' being one shilling and sixpence.

Pp. 58-59, With music for voice and piano.

Tom Murray, Ed. and arr., 1951, Folk Songs of Jamaica, Oxford University Press.

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COMMENTS ABOUT THIS SONG [Revised July 16, 2014]
Read comments posted on http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=40845 by Q on October 4, 2012. Among those comments is this quote: "One Solja Man" is a Jamaican Mento song. Another name for this song is "Wheel And Turn Me"."
-snip-
The "wheel and turn" phrase is in the 4th verse of this song.

-snip-
Click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0fMZp8Nerk for a 1952 sound clip of "Wheel And Turn Me" by Lord Flea with The Jamaican Calypsonians. Regarding the name "the Jamaican Calypsonians", a number of Jamaican Mento songs are miscategorized as the more popular in the USA category "calypso". Subsequently, some Jamaican Mento singers used the descriptor "Calypso" and "Calypsonian" for their music and their groups.

-snip-
I believe that "John Crow" in this song is a derogatory referent for a dark skinned Black man. The phrase "An one ole un-conscionable John Crow" doubles down the derogatory meaning of the description (an unconscionable dark skinned Black man"). That meaning is substantiated by the note that the song is also sung as "One Bungo Man", "Bungo" meaning an "African." Read the notes for the song "Bungo Moolatta" on http://cocojams.com/content/caribbean-folk-songs Caribbean Folk Songs.

The origin of the name "John Crow" comes from the black color of the crow. In the USA "John Crow" became "Jim Crow" and much later was used as a referent for discriminatory practices against Black people in the United States South and elsewhere in that nation.
-snip-
"Jeremiah" is the name of the soldier (Solja man). The word "tear" in the lyrics "No tear i' Jeremiah, no tera i'/ No tear up me silk an' satin" in the "One Solja Man" song appears to have the clear meaning of "Jeremiah, don't dance with me so fast that I'll fall down and tear [cut] my silk and satin dress".

-snip-
In the version of "One Solja Man" found above, the verse that includes the word "tambourine" is given as "Yuh mussa wan' me fe go fall dung/ An' lick me belly pon tambourina."

UPDATE July 17, 2014: I think that the word "tambourine" doesn't refer to the musical instrument but the musician (a female?) playing the tambourine.

Mudcat blogger Q shared a verse from a 1965 ska track by the Wailers [the song "Rude Boy" that includes the lyrics: "Now why you come wheel and turn me/ Fi go lick a mi head 'pon you tambourine".

Here's my "transcription" of verse 4 in standard American English:
Why are you wheeling and turning me [so fast; so rough]
Why are you wheeling and turning me [so fast; so rough]
You must want me to fall down
And hit my belly on the tambourine player.

With regard to "hit my belly on the tambourina", in that song that line may mean that the woman is concerned that she would crash into the tambourine player because she was being spun around too fast.

In trying to suss out the meaning of that verse in "One Solja Man" I think that it's important to remember that the woman speaking doesn't like that soldier. She complains about him throughout the song and his way of dancing with her is just one of those complaints.

I think that the "wheel and turn, hit my head lines" in the Wailers' song is an analogy to how rude boys are moving around at a fast pace in one direction and then another only to crash into (hit one's head) against the tambourine (player). In the context of that song the tune that is being played and the tambourine player herself (or himself) symbolizes the System (Babylon).

Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-wailers-rude-boy-sound-file-comments.html for a pancocojams post about the meaning of that verse in the Wailers "Rude Boy" song.
-snip-
I also wonder if the choice of the name "Jeremiah" for the soldier in the song "One Solja Man" as well as the lyrics "no tear I Jeremiah" lyrics may have been creative allusions to the Biblical prophet Jeremiah who was known as the weeping prophet (Jeremiah 9, verses 1-18).
-snip-
I've just come across this explanation for the phrases "wheel and turn" and "lick your head against a tambourine":
https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100707150927AA7b8ed

Part Admin/Part Tour Guide, 2010
"The songs* is from the dance era of the 60s, 70s and 80s. The lyrics go through a number of popular dance moves of the time. Including 'wheel and turn' a move where you spin as fast and rhymically as you can and then break or stop and change moves or spin in the oposite direction. The artists could also have been using artistic license to say not only was his heart hurt (emotainally hurt) but he was so confused he lost physical balance, fell and hurt his head by hitting it against a tambourine. But the rest of the song does not speak to this it speaks to dancing similar to elephant man's 'pon de river' where he goes through todays pop moves

Source(s):
Its my culture and I keep abreast of area "

****
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3 comments:

  1. I've just come across this explanation for the phrases "wheel and turn" and "lick your head against a tambourine":
    https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100707150927AA7b8ed

    Part Admin/Part Tour Guide, 2010
    "The songs* is from the dance era of the 60s, 70s and 80s. The lyrics go through a number of popular dance moves of the time. Including 'wheel and turn' a move where you spin as fast and rhymically as you can and then break or stop and change moves or spin in the oposite direction. The artists could also have been using artistic license to say not only was his heart hurt (emotainally hurt) but he was so confused he lost physical balance, fell and hurt his head by hitting it against a tambourine. But the rest of the song does not speak to this it speaks to dancing similar to elephant man's 'pon de river' where he goes through todays pop moves

    Source(s):
    Its my culture and I keep abreast of area "

    * The questioner who asked about that phrases mentions The Wailers songs "Rude Boy, Walk the Proud Land, and Rebel's Hop" .

    ReplyDelete
  2. This song has to be set in the 40's maybe during the war era. Hmmm the Solja man is the legitimate suitor (Maybe caucasion )who is keeping her maintained hence all those money talk. The Silk and Satin refers to their relationship or so it seems (Tongue in cheek), she doesn't want to damage it. The tambourine and Belly reference means the lady doesn't want to get pregnant. The John Crow is a black man, another lover as others have inferred who's name is Jeremiah. He is John crow because he takes advantage of her weakness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unknown, thank you for your comments about the Jamaican song "One Solja Man".

      I appreciate learning more about the meaning of this song.

      Delete