Friday, November 29, 2013

Mighty Sparrow - Yankees Gone (Jean & Dinah) sound files, lyrics, & comments

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases Mighty Sparrow's Calypso song "Yankee Gone ("Jean And Dinah"). This post also includes information about Mighty Sparrow, information & comments about that now classic Calypso song, as well as portion of that song's lyrics & a link to the song's full lyrics.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Click for a clip of a video that includes an interview with Mighty Sparrow about "Jean And Dinah" and an early film clip of Sparrow singing portions of "Jean And Dinah". That post focuses on the use of Caribbean Patois in some viewer comments about that video.

"Slinger Francisco CMT (born July 9, 1935), better known as Mighty Sparrow, is a calypso singer, songwriter, and guitarist of Trinidadian citizenship. Known as the "Calypso King of the World", he is one of the best-known and most successful calypsonians. He has won Trinidad's Carnival Road March competition eight times, Calypso King/Monarch eight times, and has twice won the Calypso King of Kings title...

Slinger Francisco was born in the fishing village of Grand Roy, Grenada, West Indies on July 9, 1935. He moved to Trinidad with his mother, his father having relocated there in 1937.[1][2] He grew up in Port of Spain.[citation needed] He began singing as a small child, but his love of calpyso was discouraged while at Newton Boys Catholic School, where he sang in the choir.[1][2] At the age of 14 he joined a steel band comprising neighborhood boys, and performed with the band at Carnival.[1]
He received his performing name 'Little Sparrow' during his early career, as a result of his energetic stage performances:
Your calypso name is given to you by your peers, based on your style. In the old days they tried to emulate British royalty. There was Lord Kitchener, Lord Nelson, Duke. When I started singing, the bands were still using acoustic instruments and the singers would stand flat footed, making a point or accusing someone in the crowd with the pointing of a finger, but mostly they stood motionless. When I sing, I get excited and move around, much like James Brown, and this was new to them. The older singers said "Why don't you just sing instead of moving around like a little Sparrow." It was said as a joke, but the name stuck. [3]
—Mighty Sparrow
After a couple of years he changed his stage name to 'Mighty Sparrow'. His first performance as a carnival singer came in 1954 with "The Parrot and the Monkey", and in 1956, Sparrow won Trinidad's Carnival Road March and Calypso King competitions with his most famous song, "Jean and Dinah" (aka "Yankees Gone", a song celebrating the departure of US troops from Trinidad).[5] Sparrow made his recording debut in 1956, with a live performance of "Yankees Gone" which was included in the album Jump Up Carnival in Trinidad.[5] His prize for winning the Calypso King title was $40.[ In protest of the small sum (the winner of the Carnival Queen beauty contest won $7,500), he wrote the song "Carnival Boycott" and attempted to organize other singers to boycott the competition.[5] About half of the singers followed, including Lord Melody.[3] Sparrow claims credit for succeeding improvements in the conditions of calypso and steelband musicians in Trinidad, as well as the formation of the Carnival Development Committee, a musicians' assistance organization.[6] Sparrow refused to officially participate in the competition for the next three years, but he continued to perform unofficially, even winning another Road March title in 1958 with "P.A.Y.E...

(These examples are placed in chronological order based on the date of their posting on YouTube with the oldest dated example presented first.)

Example #1: Mighty Sparrow - Jean & Dinah

CanchozI, Uploaded on Sep 14, 2008

Example #2: Yankees Gone"(Jean and Dinah) The Mighty Sparrow
(Calypso Crown winner-Dimanche Gras 1956)

Glenroy Joseph, Published on Sep 14, 2012

In 1956 a young newcomer to the calypso scene won the calypso crown in his first appearance on the big stage.

From the 1956 Emory Cook album, Jump Up Carnival, here is the actual Dimanche Gras performance by the Mighty Sparrow of his winning calypso, "Yankees Gone."
"Dimanche Gras is the Sunday before Carnival day and the official beginning to the carnival season which has been in full swing for days....

The [year's] King and Queen of Carnival and the Calypso Monarch are to be chosen on this night in Queen's Park. The event includes a pan competition as well but it is an opportunity to see the great practitioners of Calypso music in dramatic confrontation that is the draw that fills the stands."

" 'Jean and Dinah' (When The Yankees Gon)is a calypso from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean sung by calypsonian Mighty Sparrow that became an international hit in 1956. It was also his first of eight roadmarches. This calypso, Sparrow's first hit, commented on the large-scale prostitution that the bases once supported and the desperation of these prostitutes following the closure of many American military bases in Trinidad in the post-war period.[1]
"Jean And Dinah" (1956)was the first of Mighty Sparrow’s eight road wins marches.
"The Carnival Road March is the musical composition played most often at the "judging points" along the parade route during Carnival. Originating as part of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, the term has been applied to other Caribbean carnivals."

"Sparrow, the concerned Caribbean villager"
November 27, 2002 By Mel Cooke
..."Sparrow integrated concerns of nationalism into his music from the beginning of his recording career, which started with the immortal Jean And Dinah. He had 'words but no song' and, hearing jingles by other calypsonians on the airwaves, he was determined to do one himself. So the ambitious young lyrical Slinger did one and approached the largest company, as each jingle was sponsored by a particular business.

"I thought it was good, but after five attempts the owner of the place said 'no thanks', but we will give you two dollars for your trouble," Sparrow recalled.

However, Sparrow was totally entranced by the tune and when the Americans left the military base in Chaguaramas some time later, it was the foundation of Jean and Dinah.

"When they were here we could not get any girls. The girls were always meeting 'Joe' (as the US soldiers were called). Then when they decided to leave I wrote a song, Jean and Dinah," Sparrow said, going back in time musically and vocally, his voice going high and youthful as he sang, ending with:
'De Yankee gone
Sparrow take over now'"

From "'Jean and Dinah' turning 50" by Keith Smith
..."In July 2004 Keith Smith published ‘Jean and Dinah’ turning 50 “to acclaim not simply the singer [The Mighty Sparrow] but the song”. In this 2006 carnival season, we join in that acclaim to the calypsonian of the century.

...since the day following the night Sparrow sang "Jean and Dinah'' on that Savannah stage, calypso was never to be the same again, Sparrow remembering:
"I can see it as if it happening now. I got up there the night and I started to sing, the crowd, man, the crowd. From the first verse the stands were in an uproar...'', the good Dr Rohlehr, (Gordon, of course) writing for history (Calypso and Society in Pre-Independence Trinidad) that the topic (the Yankee withdrawal) "had been explored ad nauseam in the post-1945 period by Kitchener, Invader, Lion, Growler, Beginner and others. It was therefore remarkable that Sparrow was able to resuscitate it ten years later. It may be that the bitterness evoked by the presence of American soldiers as wealthier competitors in the skin-trade had outlasted them by a decade. It is, however, more likely that the calypso made its impact through the personality of Sparrow: his youth, vigour, confidence and the sense that he represented the newness of the time...Another reason for the popularity of "Jean and Dinah'' was the vitality and biting cynicism with which Sparrow was able to invest a worn-out theme. Consider the final stanza:
It's the glamour boys again
We are going to rule Port of Spain
No more Yankees to spoil the fete
Dorothy have to take what she get
All of them who used to make style
Taking their two shillings with a smile
No more hotel and Simmons bed*
By the sweat of thy brow shall thou eat bread.....
“Simmons bed” a high quality type of mattress; From “For over 140 years, Simmons has been introducing technological innovations to help the world sleep better… Today Simmons is one of the world’s leading names in bedding”…

I find this transcription interesting as that line is usually given as "No more hotel to rest your head".

Click for the complete lyrics to Mighty Sparrow's song "Yankee Gone" ("Jean And Dinah") that include that ending.

Thanks to Slinger Franscico (Mighty Sparrow) for his musical legacy. Thanks also to all those who I quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these sound files on YouTube.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. Hi Azizi, having just spotted your above *Yankee Gone* blog, I thought you may be interested in the sequel, his c1957 recording of the recent YouTube posting *Yankee`s Back*. It is certainly not another *Jean and Dinah* hit tune but Sparrow as always manages to point up news whether good or bad in his own inimitable and musical way.
    A Merry Christmas from Graham Johnstone - London

    1. Thanks Graham!

      I appreciate you letting me and others know about that song. Here's the hyperlink to that YouTube video Mighty Sparrow - *Yankee`s Back*

      Also, here's a hyperlink to your website for those interested in Mighty Sparrow recordings

      Merry Christmas!

  2. I've been obsessed by this song ever since first hearing it. The first version I came across was on a budget Harry Belafonte compilation. I'm not sure it's HB actually singing it and belive it to be the band The Islanders (who they?), but I've been unable to find any info on them. It's more banjo driven mento than calypso, but who's counting?

    1. Thanks for your comment, Outa-Spaceman.

      I don't know anything about that band, either. But I love it when I come across good music just by YouTube surfing.