Lyr Add: History of Carnival (calypso)
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Lyr Add: History of Carnival (calypso)

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Q (Frank Staplin) 31 Jan 04 - 12:32 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: HISTORY OF CARNIVAL (calypso)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 12:32 PM

Lyric Add: History of Carnival (calypso)
Atilla the Hun (Raymond Quevedo)

From a scandal and hideous Bacchanal
Today we've got a glorious carnival
We used to sing long ago nuneos and pusenio *1
But today you can hear calypso
On the American radio.

Carnival of long ago you used to see
Half-naked women for the Pisse-en-lit *2
Shak shak and vera in their hand *3
Twisting their body as they lead the band
You weren't safe in your own home
Through accident, bottle and stone
But today you can hear calypso
On the American radio.

Some of the songsters I can remember,
Were Marlborough and Executor,
And Black Prince Pharaoh
And Edward the Confessor who I knew well
They used to sing mama morial *4
Captain Baker was a ......
But today you can hear a Trinidad calypso
On the American radio.

Carnival of long ago was very terrible
And the orgies reprehensible
In those days women sang calypso
Like Sophie Matelonia and Marigold
Theu used to walk out with bully face *5
I mean in the days of canboulay *6
But today you can hear our Trinidad calypso
On the American radio.

A prophet has no honour in his own land
The truth of that proverb I now understand
When you sing calypso in Trinidad
You are a vagabond and everything that's bad,
In your native land you're a hooligan
In New York you're an artist and a gentleman
For instance take Lion and me
Having dinner with Rudy Vallee.

1935, Brunswick 39417 B04414, arr. Gerald Clark and his Caribbean Islanders. Also Kaiso! Vol. 2 Ethnic Cassettes KA2.
*1- meaning unclear. *2- a Carnival Band *3- shak shak is a rattle, vera may be the hollow pipe used as a rhythm instrument in St. Lucia (baha) *4- meaning unclear *5- A grimace (inviting?) *6- early name for the festivity.
Calypso Golden Age

The term "calypso" appeared in the 1930s, origin unknown.
It could have been compounded from the terms caliso (Venezuelan Creole for topical song), Carib carieto (joyful song), Creole carrousse (drinking party, festivity), kaico, kaiso (expression of feeling). One of the artists or one of the recording companies may have suggested the term.

The Lesser Antilles, including Trinidad, were originally French but taken by the British in the late 18th c. French Creole patois continued, reinforced by movement among the islands, especially with Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Early records of calypso have lyrics in the Creole patois (See threads on "L'Année Passée" (Rum and Coca Cola) and "Tinga Layo."
The first recordings were made in 1912-1914 by Victor, and included Lionel Belasco, Lovey's String Band, Jules Sims and others.
Musical Traditions articles (on line),, are responsible for much of the material above.

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