EVERYTHING BUT – Bajan carolling
THERE IS ONE JEFF SHEPHERD who congratulates himself on being able to “strengthen” his argument that we do not have enough local music “to fill a station with”. His submission is that for the last 45 years every November radio stations have been playing the same old music.
Mr Shepherd’s insinuation is that the songs of a Barbadian nature played in November are so limited they reek of monotony, and might be better offered spread out through the year, so the repetition within 30 days does not grate our sensibilities.
Truth be told, Bajan music – all of it – ought to be played all year round; not just calypso and party at Crop Over and mere spouge and folk in November, and a smattering of local carolling in December.
But persisting is this nonsensical argument put forth by the armchair musicians, bathroom-only crooners, quasi-producers and deejay gurus of this nation that there wouldn’t be enough Barbadian music to satisfy 80 per cent airplay continuously – furthermore 100 per cent. And, like Mr Shepherd, they add: without boring the hell out of people.
Well, should I not remind us all that we have the likes of Larry Mayers, fellow Broadcaster Of The Year (or is it The Century?) and Ian Cupid Gill regaling us with a constricted repertoire of golden oldies all through the year. And they – and apparently Mr Shepherd – don’t think all that is boring.
The fact is the Mayerses and Gills push their own favourite oldies and country – the same old same old – for months on end virtually every morning, afternoon and night.
I admit there is nothing wrong with golden oldies per se. They boast excellent melody and vivid lyrics, but they cannot continue to be the quintessence of Barbadian radio programming day after day, month after month, year after year, ignoring the musical reflection of our traditional values, customs and norms, and indigenousness – and dissing the constant cries of the concerned.
As happens every year, we will have our token samplings of local or local artiste-performed Christmas music – probably dominated by the squeaky renderings of little primary school choirs – to show some social conscience. I am happy for the young children. At least they can brag they have sung where many a mastered tongue has not voiced before.
As of our national radio, you would think some station heads were instructed by Washington, New York or Nashville, or Kingston, or Port of Spain, or, as I have charged before, by penetrating aliens oblivious to local talent.
There will probably be nothing you or I can do about it, except to cringe at their national insensitivity and froth at the mouth in silent indignation.
Most of those presenting authentic Barbadian Christmas music this month will do so apparently under some strain – as they are wont to – even though their brief is to give of true Bajan fare.
A programme presenter can’t be talking of Barbadian Christmas things like black cake, jug-jug, Bajan stuffing, sorrel and the like, and then top it all off with Bing Crosby’s It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas or White Christmas; or Dr Elmo’s Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer; or Dolly Parton and Kenney Rogers’ A Christmas To Remember. The Bajan fare and these American iconic offerings aren’t exactly complementary.
If our Christmas sound cannot be at the centre of our musical presentations on radio, as Jamaica’s and Trinidad’s are at theirs, what indeed are our deejays and celebrated broadcasters saying about us as a people? And when our very deejays and celebrated broadcasters put the season’s music itself of Jamaica or Trinidad at the centre of their programmes, what indeed are they saying about themselves?
There is a repository of musical works of all genres – from the religious ballad through calypso to jazz – by Barbadian artistes that lies untouched and undusted in the vault of forgetfulness of our radio stations. Golden oldies and Trinidadian calypso “classics” aside, virtually everything else pre-Sak Pase is undeserving of the will of our “programme managers” to pursue and research – and play.
But as our foreparents always warned: night does run till day catch it.
Woe to these mortal music powers impersonating the gods!