04 February 2013

The Harder They Come - Jimmy Cliff

Well, since one of the big hub-bubs before yesterday's Superbowl commercial-o-rama was about the VW spot and a few mis-guided, talking-head race-baiters calling it racist (it WASN'T), I thought it was appropriate to choose a Jamaican artist for today.

Kudos to VW for still running the ad.  My wife had NOT seen it OR the 'outrage' and laughed through the whole thing.

As I mentioned in my previous OMM post, college was a GREAT time for me and my music tastes and experiences rapidly broadened further than I could have ever imagined.

There were a few Reggae/Ska bands in Milwaukee and somehow the Delta Chi boys attached ourselves to a band of WHITE guys called Those X-Cleavers who were sort of a punk/ska sort of group. (Note: I think the ONLY other group was Kojo at the time and then there was Tony Brown Band out of Madison).  But what came from that was the quick exposure to groups much more than just the Bob Marley stuff that was playing on ever jukebox in every campus bar and house party.

I'll feature a group of guys later in the year named Sly & Robbie but back to this post; Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Jimmy Cliff playing "The Harder They Come".

Now, this song came out in 1972 (or close to it) but I hadn't heard it, at least not consciously, until the mid-80's.  I ALSO was able to finally see the movie around that time as well.  Jimmy was the star of that movie and of course, as he mentions in the video, it really propelled him into at least US notariety.

During the mid 80's he also did a movie that I actually PAID to see called Club Paradise with Robin Williams.

Jimmy never really had a ton of commercial music hits, but amongst the Reggae community, he continued to represent the 'no problem mon' attitude that helped tourism to this very day.  Frankly, most of anything he had ever chart were covers of other songs but hearing his original "The Harder They Come" is one that left its mark on me.

I was fortunate to see him live and it was absolutely fantastic and I got that chance in the early 90's at Summerfest where the aforementioned Those X-Cleavers opened up for him (and not like the band that plays at 12:00, they were the band that played right before he took the stage).

Lastly, please notice that he plays guitar left-handed but doesn't re-string the guitar, he just plays it upside down.  I heard an interview with him (again on the Guitar Center Sessions on DirecTV) where he said that it was just cheaper to buy a right-handed guitar and play it upside down.  Hell it worked for Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix, why not him

Funny enough my son plunks around on a right-handed guitar but he too is a lefty.  Maybe if it gets really good at it, we'll have a star on our hands.

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