Part VIII: Reggae
Having left Folkerville several miles behind us, Michael and I had a hankering for listening to something somewhat more uplifting. The Sun was out, gleaming through our windshield, and we both remarked on the smell of the sea air as we approached Reggaeton along the coastal highway.
“Hey, Roger,” Michael said, ‘how ‘bout some reggae now?”
“Sure,” I replied, “sounds good to me—at least it will when you play some! Ha!”
“Well,” Michael acquiesced, “I haven’t a large personal collection of it, so let’s see what’s on SoundCloud and YouTube.” Michael tapped and fiddled with his pad.
Roger nodded and added, “Well, what makes ‘reggae’ reggae?!”
“That syncopated beat. Have you ever listened to ska music, Roger? It evolved out of that between the 1950s and ‘60s. The music’s accent is on the upbeat, not the downbeat. It’s a somewhat unexpected rhythmic event.”
“Yes,” I said, “I think I know what you mean. Reggae seems to be ‘bouncy’ to me. It makes me wanna dance!”
“Agreed! As for the term, ‘reggae,’ there are apparently conflicting tales of its origins: it either comes from the Jamaican term for ‘raggedy clothes’ or ‘rags,’ or, if you wish to take it from the words of Bob Marley himself, it is derived from Spanish ‘reg-,’ as in, ‘king,’ or ‘king’s music.’”
“Wow,” I exclaimed. “Who to believe?!”
“Well,” Michael replied, “that doesn’t matter as much as its sound. It usually brings to mind beaches and sunlight for me.”
“As for me, too,” I added.
“Ska was around in the ‘50s and reggae-proper arrived in the ‘60s—around the time psychedelic music wooed the States. Instruments used for the production of reggae were primarily the steel drum, acoustic and electric drums, guitar, organ, and bass guitar. On the guitar, a player would use a ‘double skank’ strum, while all the other musicians flushed out the arrangement. Calypso music, which was around much earlier, also had its hand at influencing reggae: listen to this early, early reggae hit with a ‘double skank’ guitar rhythm, Hopeton Lewis’ ‘Take it Easy’!”
“Well, ain’t that an ear-pleaser, Michael. What else you got in that ‘rock box’ of yours, Michael?”
Michael smiled and paged through his favorites. “How ‘bout this one, Roger? It’s a mysterious sounding dub tune with a cool organ part—‘A Murderous Dub’ by King Tubby!”
“Ooo, cool, Michael. Hmmm … I wonder what my faves might be. Definitely Bob Marley, since he was around since 1963. And maybe some King Tubby. We both dig him! Well, here are my Picks of the Week.”
Here are my SoundCloud picks of the week for Folk Music. Give a listen, and if you like what you hear, please ‘like,’ and ‘repost’ the tracks you enjoy on SoundCloud, Twitter, and/or Facebook. This is a great opportunity for you to support the creative work of the following fine artists.
♦ no woman no cry – Bob Marley & Erika Badu & Jimmy Cliff – chubblesterol – [Reggae]
♦ Bionic Horn Dub – King Tubby – DFA Records – [Reggae]
♦ Reggae Music – 1814Reggae – [Reggae]