Monday, October 17, 2016

Day 352 of 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge - Prince Buster - Hard Man Fi Dead

Like many, I was saddened to hear of the passing of the great Prince Buster in September and though I wish I had shown my respects by creating a tribute mix like so many other had, I have to admit that I am not very well versed in the man's music and attempting to do so would have seemed amateurish and shallow.  Case in point, while others have been justifiably raving about the many amazing records and productions the man had his fingerprints on and exposing me to many that I was regretfully hearing for the first time, I have to admit that "Hard Man Fi Dead," one of Buster's most popular songs, has always been my favorite.  Now I could have bullshitted everyone, did some background research, dug deep into his discography and pulled out something obscure and made a loud proclamation that this was my personal favorite Prince Buster record but that's not me... I'm all about keeping this blog honest and I will gladly admit when I am ridiculously outmatched on knowledge about the late great Buster.  Well enough about that, let's get to today's track!  

Quoting from what I wrote in the 2013 Spooktacular... "Hard Man Fe Dead" tells the tale of a man who won't stay dead.  Unlike a domestic house cat that only has nine lives, this cat has ninety-nine lives!  What makes this song so distinctively Jamaican, aside from the smoking hot ska beat,  is its reference to nine-night which is a funerary custom practiced throughout much of the Caribbean.  Nine-night, which is rooted in African tradition, was originally an extended wake that lasted for nine nights and where friends and loved-ones would gather at the home of the deceased to share condolences, sing hymns and eat together.  But, as time as passed, this tradition has become less mournful and more celebratory.  These days attendees don't just arrive with sad expressions and heart-felt remembrances, they arrive with food, drink and music. 

It is believed that on the ninth night, right before the bodies procession to the church service the next morning, that the spirit of the deceased will pass through the party, gather food and say their final goodbyes before continuing on to its final resting-place.  Customarily the food (usually fried fish, bammy and 100 proof rum) are set up under a tent and must remain undisturbed until after midnight when the spirit has eaten their fill.  It is also customary that the bed and mattress of the deceased will be turned on their side against the wall in order to discourage the duppy from staying around and encourage them to proceed to the grave."


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