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Sunday, August 4, 2013

One Two Three Four Colon Man He Come (with lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcase the Jamaican Mento song "One Two Three Four Colon Man He Come." This post also includes background information about that song, a sound file, and two versions of lyrics for that song.

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

All copyrights belong with their owners.

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BACKGROUND TO THE SONG "ONE TWO THREE FOUR COLON MAN HE COME"
From "Brown Gal In De Ring: 12 Jamaican Folk-Songs Collected & arranged for schools by Olive Lewin: Oxford University Press 1974
"Colon is another name for Panama. Many Jamaicans who went there to help build the Panama canal were therefore called Colon Men. With the money they earned some of them were able to buy watches, and this song makes fun of the Colon Man who is showing off his watch on his return home. In some cases, however, there was no watch on the end of the chain! When his neighbours suspected this they would tease him by asking him to take it out and tell them the time."
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Hat tip to Nigel Parsons for posting this information & the lyrics to that song [the first verse of which is the same as the first verse found below] on http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=40845
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Several Jamaican Mento songs refer to the Panamanian town of Colon, to Colon Bay, or to Colon men. Click http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=40845 for lyrics to three of those songs: "Me Lover Gone A Colon Bay", "Isaac Park gone a Colon", and "One, Two, Three, Four, Colon Man A Come".

This comment was posted after the lyrics to the song "Isaac Park gone a Colon":
"Colon was the port of disembarkation for labourers on the Panama Canal.

In 1888, the French De Lesseps company began with 20,000 laborers, most of them Afro-Caribbean. Over 22,000 died in the 1880s. The United States took over in 1904, the year Jekyll's book was published.

The deaths took place because of yellow fever, and the work of assassination squads who murdered any 'wooly-haired man" in the camps. "Straight-haired Coolies, that is to say East Indians, were allowed to go unharmed."
Walter Jekyll, 1904, Jamaican Song and Story, CXII"
[This quote is reformatted with the source credited at the end.]

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FEATURED VIDEO:
Cedella Booker Marley Colon Man



G4nJa4LiFe, Uploaded on Apr 6, 2011

Cedella Booker Marley - Smiling' Island of Song (1992)- Silvanio Rockers
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This song is found beginning at 1:30 & ending at 4:12 of that sound file.

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LYRICS:
Example #1:
1 2 3 4 Colon man a-come (3x)
With his brass chain a-lick his belly bum bum bum.

Ask him what the time and he look upon the sun (3x)
With his brass chain a-lick his belly bum bum bum.

One two three four Colon man he come (3x)
With his brass chain a-lick his belly bum bum bum.

One two three four Colon man he come (3x)
With his brass chain a-lick his belly bum bum bum.

So hee glance there upon the sun (3x)
With his brass chain a-lick his belly bum bum bum

One two three four Colon man he come (3x)
That’s me.[This is said between each repeat of the first line]
With his brass chain a-lick his belly bum bum bum.

So fast he leave the island so quickly he come back
With his brass chain a-lick his belly bum bum bum.

One two three four Colon man he come (3x)
With his brass chain a-lick his belly bum bum bum.

One two three four Colon man he come (3x)
That’s me [This is said between each repeat of the first line]
With his brass chain a-lick his belly bum bum bum.
[ending line] With his brass chain a-lick his belly bum bum bum
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Lick = hit (strike)
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This is my transcription of this song from the sound file that is found above. Additions & corrections are welcome.

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Example #2

1 2 3 4 Colon man he come (3x)
And his watch and chain hit the belly bum bum bum.

I asked him for a dollar he gave to me a dime (3x)
And his watch and chain hit the belly bum bum bum

One two three four Colon man he come (3x)
His watch and chain hit the belly bum bum bum.

I ask him for the time, he look up at the sun (3x)
His watch and chain hit the belly bum bum bum.

I think I go to Colon and get some money too (3x)
My watch and chain will hit the belly bum bum bum.
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Source:
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=138570#3184427 posted by Kendell

The information that Kendell wrote that he was told about this song appears to be inaccurate. Here's his comment:
"The story, as told to me was the Colon man was a boss in the sugar cane fields of Barbados, and he was illiterate, knew nothing about money or even how to read a watch. He went to Colon, Columbia and came back with a fancy pocket watch and gold chain. The field hand he was talking to saw right through him and made a fool out of him by asking for money and the time."

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RELATED LINK
http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/08/panamanian-calypso-get-ready-for.html

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Thanks to the unknown composers of this song and thanks to the vocalists who are featured in this video. Thanks to those who are quoted in this post, and thanks to the producer of this showcased video.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

4 comments:

  1. very nice post... thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You're welcome, vmenplus tangerang.

      I appreciate your comment.

      Delete
  2. My cousins and I grew up hearing our grandfather, a Jamaican immigrant sing, this song. Living in America, we never knew the full meaning although we learned that the man had to look up at the sun because he could not tell time, despite the ticking of the big clock beating upon his chest. As we have passed the song on now to the fourth generation, it's nice to have some background information that confirms its origins.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glenda Simmons Jenkins, thanks for your comment.

      Thank goodness that the internet has all kinds of information. I'm happy to highlight some of this information via this blog.

      P.S. You're lucky to have those memories from your grandfather. My grandfather was from Tobago (we believe, although he might have been from Trinidad). I have great memories of him, but no songs or folktales :(

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