Saturday, September 14, 2013

Lord Nelson - King Liar (Calypso sound file, lyrics, comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases a sound file of and lyrics for the Calypso song "King Liar". Selected comments about this song from the featured YouTube sound file's viewer comment thread are also included in this post.

In addition, this post presents information about Lord Nelson, the performer of this song, as well as information about "lying contests".

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Artist Biography by Chris Nickson
"Like many calypsonians from Tobago, Lord Nelson (born Robert Nelson) had to seek his fame and fortune in America. And he found it -- although not in the U.S., but back home, where he remains one of the acknowledged stars of soca, the mix of soul and calypso that has been the island's musical mainstay since the mid-'70s. Born and raised in Tobago, Nelson left his homeland after graduating high school, hoping for a better life in Brooklyn. However, he'd hardly had a chance to unpack before he was drafted and sent off with the U.S. forces to Korea, which was where he first showed his talents as a singer and comedian, performing in Army shows. Later, back on American shores, he began singing with West Indian steel bands in Brooklyn, mostly covering calypso hits in his unique fashion, which went over strongly with the Caribbean community. Still, he never considered writing his own material until he became friendly with another calypsonian, Mighty Duke, who mentored him. Nelson's own style took from calypso, but also from the American music he heard every day, adding more than an ounce of funk to the proceedings on songs like "La La" and "King Liar," which became Caribbean hits. While not the first to make soca music, he found a great deal of popularity, to the extent that in 1989 he won the title of Uncrowned King in a competition for off-island artists at Trinidad's annual Carnival. In 1990 he signed with Shanachie, which ensured good distribution for his music -- certainly more than his brethren in the West Indies -- and he was able to go global with his sound, even if he had become part of the digital sound rather than relying on 'real' instruments; his label debut, When the World Turns Around, offered a digital remake of his earlier album Love You Forever, which had originally appeared on the tiny Joker label. The uncle of another young soca/rapso artist, Mojah, Nelson continues to record and perform."
Notice that Lord Nelson's name, like the names of other old school Calypsonians emulates the names of British royalty (for instance, Lord Kitchener, Lord Invader, Mighty Duke, and Sir Lancelot).

"Lying contests" are informal or formal competitions in which people try to tell the best tall tale. A tall tale is a folkloric form which consist of highly exaggerated stories. Those stories are humorous because their exaggerations are told as though theey were truth [The fanciful stories are told with "a straight face"].

In 2013 Jay Weekes, a commenter in the YouTube comment thread for this featured song wrote that "these kinda competition does go on all now still....who lie last lie de best"

To date, I've only found slight mentions of the Afro-Caribbean custom of lying contests (telling tall tales). However, the 1935 book Mules To Men in which Zora Neale Hurston provides examples of that custom among rural African Americans in Florida from the late 1920s or earlier can serve to illustrate this custom. From
"In her hometown of Eatonville, [Zora Neale] Hurston was brought up in a culture in which lying, i.e. folk tale telling, was an artform. Hurston celebrated this culture of lying when she published a collection of "them big ole lies" told "on the store porch" by the working class African Americans of her hometown of of Eatonville [Florida] (Mules and Men)."
If you are aware of any online articles about Caribbean "lying contests", please post that information in the comment section of this post. Thanks!

Lord Nelson - King Liar

charsukaifan, Uploaded on Jan 11, 2009

Yuh hear lie
Another YouTube sound file of this song indicated that it was first recorded in 1977.

(performed by Lord Nelson)

[verse 1]
I know some of you wouldn't believe me
But if I lie, ask meh good friend Marky
It was a big lying competition
To see who they would crown as lying champion
Liars from all parts of the West Indies
Big shot liars from all dem foreign countries
From a field about a thousand or so entry
In two days it boil down and leave just 3
I had meh eye on "Liar de Lion"
Cause I know he does come with some good ones
But they had a younger fella named Devo
Come from some village there in Tobago
He same he father is Tobago's best fisherman
Catch a fish a mile wide, 80 feet in span
He had to tie it on de boat and swim back to land
To get he brother Eric to give him a hand

Yuh hear lie, Dat is lie
Lie , yuh hear lie
Teacher Percy say if yuh tell ah lie
You going to hell as soon as yuh die

[verse 2]
Liar de Lion, he laugh till he sweat
He say Mr Devo eh say nothin yet
If you really want to hear bout fishin
Let me blow you mind, now listen to something
When you talking bout fish, yuh just hit de spot
I was hoping you did believe it or not
The fish yuh father caught, fuh you it was great
But is dem small fish meh father does use fuh bait
Lion went ahead on points in de show
Completely eliminated Mr Devo
De next man to beat was "Wil The Outrageous"
He ask de judges if he could lie first
The judges asked Lion, the Lion agreed
He said any topic Wil pick is alright with me
He outrageous, I strong, let we meet head on
And when we done see who head fit to wear de crown

Yuh hear lie, Dat is lie
Lie , yuh hear lie
Teacher Percy say if yuh tell ah lie
You going to hell as soon as yuh die

[verse 3]
De outrageous say that he knew a tailor
Comes to making suit, de man is a master
If you show him a man coming round a corner
He could make him a suit and don't even measure
Ah talking bout suit sitting down correct
Expertly made and fitting perfect
He used to sew for Shakepeare, make suit for Hamlet
And up to this day he eh make a mistake yet
You know de crowd went wild, they couldn't cool down
Ah say Liar de Lion losing he crown
De judges brought de crowd back to order
And ask de Lion to lie bout a tailor
He said my man is de best, Rolfy is his name
Cutting cloth, making suit is his game
Doh show him de man, my tailor is class
Just show him de corner whey de fella pass
And he go make a suit, dat is tailor

Yuh hear lie, King liar
Teacher Percy say if yuh tell ah lie
You going to hell as soon as yuh die

Teacher Percy say if yuh tell ah lie
You going to hell as soon as yuh die

For some reason, this transcription doesn't include the words
"Chock it up/Let it up/move it up" which Lord Nelson sings in one form or another after the group sings the words "Teacher Percy say if yuh tell ah lie/You going to hell as soon as yuh die".

Here's an explanation about the meaning of the phrase "chock it up"
Chock it up/Chalk it up"
" “Chalk it up” is a very old expression that goes back to the custom of writing a customer’s outstanding charges on a chalkboard, especially in a bar. Today it means to give credit in a more general sense, as in the expression “chalk it up to experience” (credit it to experience, add it to your account of experiences).” A successful team may chalk up another win."
Given that explanation, the phrase "chock it up" is important in the "King Liar" song. That phrase is important because it shows the singer "bigging up" himself (praising himself, patting himself on the back) for besting his competitor in the lying contest.

SELECTED COMMENTS [from the viewer comment thread

Posted in 2010

"You hear tune? Dat is tune!!!!"

"As a young boy, I kind of remember the chorus. I visited Trinidad recently and was liming with old friends in a rum shop in mayaro. I laughed until my jaws were hurting. The LIES and stories they were telling could rival that of the great Lord Nelson.. King Liar. Great kaiso!"

"Chune of chunes. Love this one."
-David Smith

Posted in 2011
"This is the most hilarious kaiso of all time.

"If you tell a lie, you goin' to Hell as soon as you die." As a child, I actually heard this from teachers."

Posted in 2012

"yess sir lol you can find it here on youtube and yess it was nelson he sang that song in response to being opposed to enter Dimanche Gras that year, as he does not reside in trinidad. but he ah tobago child eh! boom! lol"
- Rip Mowt
"Dimanche Gras" (Fat Sunday" is the Sunday before Mardi Gras.
"It's feast day in Trinidad. Dimanche Gras takes place on the Sunday night before Ash Wednesday. Here the Calypso Monarch is chosen (after competition)."

"Calypso in trouble. You think any one of them singing calypso these days could sing a tune like this?"

"BIG BIG BIG Chune, Kaiso boy. One of the best ever recorded kaiso."

Posted in 2013

"Goodness, talk about master story telling and humour, The Mighty Duke who wrote this song, is a first class writer."
I've posted this comment for the record [no pun intended]. I'm not sure if The Mighty Duke actually wrote this song or if it was written by Lord Nelson.

"Teacher Percy from Patience Hill was both school master and anglican lay minister what a giant.
-Andy Moore

Thanks to the musical legacy of Lord Nelson.

Thanks also to the publishers of these videos, and thanks to all those whose comments are quoted in this post.

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. hi, how is this song interpreted? what is it about or what does it reflect?

    1. Shianne 95, thanks for your question.

      This Calypso song is about a formal competition between kaiso singers as to which one could extemporaneously compose and perform the best song that included bragging and put down of the other competitors. This kind of competition is similar to the "tall tales" lying contests that are documented in 19th United States.

  2. This is a very great rendition, It reminded me of my mother. She loved that song.

    1. I appreciate your comment, Packham.

      May your mother rest in peace.