Translate

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Boney M - Brown Girl In The Ring (Video, Lyrics, & Comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post features a video of Boney M singing the Caribbean children's song "Brown Girl In The Ring". This post also provides the text of that version, as well as comments about the "Brown Girl In The Ring" game song.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric and entertainment purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

****
INFORMATION ABOUT BONEY M
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boney_M.
Boney M. is a vocal group created by German record producer Frank Farian. Originally based in West Germany, the four original members of the group's official line-up were Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett from Jamaica, Maizie Williams from Montserrat and Bobby Farrell from Aruba. The group was formed in 1975 and achieved popularity during the disco era of the late 1970s. The group has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide with most sales in the UK and Germany.
****
INFORMATION ABOUT THE BONEY M VERSION OF "BROWN GIRL IN THE RING"
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Girl_in_the_Ring_(song)
Arguably the most popular version of the song, Boney M.'s version was originally a single B-side to the group's #1 hit single "Rivers of Babylon" (1978). When "Rivers of Babylon" had slipped to #20 in the UK charts, radio stations suddenly flipped the single, seeing "Brown Girl in the Ring" going all the way to #2 and becoming a hit in its own right...

The River of Babylon/Brown Girl in The Ring single is the sixth best-selling single of all time in the UK with sales of 2 million.

****
FEATURED VIDEO: BONEY M - Brown girl in the ring (1978) HD and HQ



nerisob,Uploaded on May 15, 2011

A hit by Boney M called "Brown Girl in the Ring" from 1978 in HD and HQ Sound.

With original audio and the video of this great pop group singing its unforgettable classic

Un éxito de Boney M titulado "Brown Girl in the Ring" (La morena en medio de la ronda) o (La negra en el corro), con el sonido original en HQ y las imágenes HD de esta gran agrupación cantando este inolvidable clásico.

En Argentina se conoció como "Chica morena en el ring", en Colombia como "La morena del anillo" y en otros países como "La morena al teléfono".
****
LYRICS: BROWN GIRL IN THE RING
(Boney M version)

Brown girl in the ring
Tra la la la la
There's a brown girl in the ring
Tra la la la la la
Brown girl in the ring
Tra la la la la
She looks like a sugar in a plum
Plum plum

Show me your motion
Tra la la la la
Come on show me your motion
Tra la la la la la
Show me your motion
Tra la la la la
She looks like a sugar in a plum
Plum plum

Blue hill water* run dry
Got no way to wash my clothes
All had water run dry
Got no way to wash my clothes

I remember one Saturday night
We had fried fish and Johnny-cakes
I remember one Saturday night
We had fried fish and Johnny-cakes**

Beng-a-deng ***
Beng-a-deng

Brown girl in the ring
Tra la la la la
There's a brown girl in the ring
Tra la la la la la
Brown girl in the ring
Tra la la la la
She looks like a sugar in a plum
Plum plum

Show me your motion
Tra la la la la
Come on show me your motion
Tra la la la la la
Show me your motion
Tra la la la la
She looks like a sugar in a plum
Plum plum

Blue hill water run dry
Got no way to wash my clothes
All had water run dry
Got no way to wash my clothes

I remember one Saturday night
We had fried fish and Johnny-cakes
I remember one Saturday night
We had fried fish and Johnny-cakes**

Beng-a-deng
Beng-a-deng
Ah Sookie ****

[repeat the verses from the beginning of the song]

* I had originally transcribed those words as "all had water". Corrected thanks to commenters. Thanks!

** "johnny-cake"
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnnycake
"Johnnycake (also jonnycake, johnny cake, journey cake, shawnee cake and johnny bread) is a cornmeal flatbread that was an early American staple food and is prepared on the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland to Jamaica

***I think that "Beng-a-deng" is a rhythmic phrase without any literal meaning.

****In this song the phrase "ah Sookie" may have no literal meaning. It's interesting to note that other online lyrics of the Boney M version of "Brown Girl In The Ring" don't even include that phrase.

But "ah sookie sookie" has been used in informal settings by African American males as a way of acknowledging the presence of an attractive female. As an example, the phrase "ah sookie sookie now" is found at the beginning of the 1971 R&B record "Groove Me" by King Floyd http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1Lf_1y7rYE.

The word "Sukie" may have come a nickname for the female name "Susan". An alternative etymology is that the phrase "ah sookie" came from the Spanish word "azucar" which means "sugar". For that reason, "ah sookie sookie" might be said to mean "oh sugar, sugar!"

****
COMMENTS ABOUT "BROWN GIRL IN THE RING" GAME SONG
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Girl_in_the_Ring_(song)
Brown Girl in the Ring is a children's ring game thought to have originated in Jamaica...

Players form a ring by holding hands, then one girl or boy goes into the middle of the ring and starts skipping or walking around to the song. The girl or boy is then asked, "Show me your motion." At this point the child in the center does his or her favorite dance. If asked "Show me your partner," he or she picks a friend to join him or her in the circle. It has been played for many centuries in all of Jamaica.
-snip-
Editor's comments:
"Brown Girl In The Ring" is an example of a show me your motion circle game with one person in the center.

Click http://loveisntenough.com/2008/07/14/ask-arp-is-it-wrong-to-sing-this-childrens-rhyme/ to read a comment from a concerned White parent about whether the game song "Brown Girl In The Ring" is racist. Tami Winfrey Harris, the Black blogger whose site this question was posted to concluded that this song isn't racist. I agree with that conclusion.

That said, I do believe that the "Brown Girl In The Ring" game song had;has racial connotations. And I further believe that the "Brown Girl In The Ring" game song could be sung in a way that it could have racist connotations.

In this game song the word "brown" probably originally was a reference to the children's skin color. My guess is that this song was composed as a way of helping Black children develop and reinforce self-esteem. However, note that the color referent "brown" was used in this song and not the color referent "black". More comments about that are found below.

A contemporary way of playing "Brown Girl In The Ring" that I observed at a Caribbean day program in 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area is to sing this game to reinforce children's knowledge of their colors. When "Brown Girl In The Ring" is played that way, the color that is named refers to the color of the blouse or shirt that the person in the center of the circle is wearing. For instance, if the girl in the center of the circle is wearing a "blue" blouse or shirt, the words to the song are "There's a blue girl in the ring". But if the boy in the center of the circle is wearing a red shirt, the words to the song are "There's a red boy in the ring".

But singing "Brown Girl In The Ring" with a multiracial group of people and using different color references for articles of clothing could be problematic because people may think that you are using color references to identify members of different races or ethnicities (with "ethnicities" here meaning the United States definition of "Latino/Hispanic"). While I don't believe that "being color blind" is an acceptable way to view & interact with people, I also think that it would be highly unacceptable to point out racial & ethnic differences just for the sake of doing so or for the sake of patting yourself on the back about how racially accepting you are.

As a point of information, while it's usually acceptable in the United States nowadays for adults to use the references "Black people" and "Brown people", it's no longer socially correct [if it ever was] to use the color references "red people [for Native Americans] and "yellow people" for [East Asians].

Als, notice that the color referent "Brown" and not "Black" was used in the song "Brown Girl In The Ring" to denote Black people's skin color. Unfortunately, even in the year 2012 because of the history and current conditions of racism, many Black children in the United States, and possibly also in Jamaica where the song "Brown Girl In The Ring" likely originated, consider being called "Black" (or "Blackie") an insult and prefer to be called "Brown". That said, in the United States, in political discourse adults use the phrase "Black & Brown people". In that phrase "Black people" refers to people of African descent [who can have very light skin, brown skin, or very dark skin] and "Brown people" refers to Latinos/Hispanics, and other People of Color from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere.

All of this to say, that, given the possible racist or at least culturally insensitive connotations that could result from changing the word "brown" to some other color, I'd probably just sing the "brown girl or brown boy in a ring" words and not replace those words with some other color - regardless if the children in the ring weren't Black (or Brown) or not.

****
RELATED LINK
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arPsclBc1_w is a video example of "Brown Girl In The Ring" that people from the Bahamas living in the United States played. That game begins at 5:19 and continues to the end of that video. The words of that version include the "well water run dry/fried fish and johnny-cakes" version. But there's another portion of the words that are sung after that verse that I can't decipher.

Update: 12/7/2012
Here's a response to my query about that video from dakingofhearts91:
"The Game played before brown girl in the ring was red rover. The lyrics to the other song goes like this "blue hill water dry no where to wash my clothes, I remember that saturday night we had fried fish and johnny cake. Man take one to satisfy woman take two she make a moo(move)"
-snip-
Thanks dakingofhearts91!

**
Another example of "Brown Girl In The Ring" as it is played in Grenada, West Indies can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVTQdK71WAU&feature=relmfu . Unfortunately, this video is very difficult to see and hear.

****
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND THANKS
Thanks to Boney M for popularizing the "Brown Girl In The Ring" song. Thanks also to all those who I quoted in this post and thanks to the uploaders of this featured video.

Finally, thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer commments are welcome.

2 comments:

  1. Blue hill water dry, nowhere to wash my clothes. I remembered one Saturday night, we had fish and Johnny Cake. :)
    Always thought this was originated in The Bahamas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous.

      Although I'm sure "Brown Girl In A Ring" is a Caribbean song, I'm not sure where it originated in the Caribbean. Perhaps it was in the Bahamas.

      Delete