♫ The Israelites ♫

Okay, I’m going out on a limb with this one, for many may not remember or care for it.  In truth, it isn’t one over which I wax nostalgic, but I trust my instincts, and for some reason this one has been in my head ever since this evening when I cussed the driver of the car in front of me who failed to understand that a green light means “GO YOU DUMBASS!!!”

The song was written by Desmond Dekker and Leslie Kong in 1968.  According to Dekker …

“It all happened so quickly. I didn’t write that song sitting around a piano or playing a guitar. I was walking in the park, eating corn. I heard a couple arguing about money. She was saying she needed money and he was saying the work he was doing was not giving him enough. I relate to those things and began to sing a little song – “You get up in the morning and you slaving for bread.” By the time I got home it was complete. And it was so funny, that song never got out of my mind. It stayed fresh in my head. The following day I got my little tape and I just sang that song and that’s how it all started.”

Dekker (born Desmond Dacres) was raised in Kingston, Jamaica and trained as a welder before singing. He formed the Aces and teamed up with hit producer Leslie Kong in 1966 (with whom he worked until Kong’s death in 1971). He has over 20 Jamaican #1 hits and 2 other UK Top 10 hits: It Mek and You Can Get It If You Really Want.  He enjoyed a revival in the UK in the early 1980s thanks to the two-tone movement. Dekker died of a heart attack in 2006 at age 64.

Israelites
Desmond Dekker

Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir
So that every mouth can be fed
Poor me Israelites, ah

Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir
So that every mouth can be fed
Poor me Israelite

My wife and my kids, they packed up and leave me
Darling, she said, I was yours to be seen
Poor me Israelites

Shirt them a-tear up, trousers is gone
I don’t want to end up like Bonnie and Clyde
Poor me Israelites

After a storm there must be a calm
They catch me in the farm
You sound your alarm
Poor me Israelites

I said I get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir
So that every mouth can be fed
Poor me Israelites

I said my wife and my kids, they are packed up and leave me
Darling, she said, I was yours to be seen
Poor me Israelites

Look me shirts them a-tear up, trousers are gone
I don’t want to end up like Bonnie and Clyde
Poor me Israelites

After a storm there must be a calm
They catch me in the farm
You sound your alarm
Poor me Israelites
Poor me Israelites, poor me Israelites, poor me Israelites

Songwriters: Desmond Dekker
Israelites lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

30 thoughts on “♫ The Israelites ♫

  1. I do like this one, always loved the use of the words ‘Israelites’ that analogy with the tribe under slavery in Egypt.
    In the UK we suffered with a few of the less mature DJs and their fans making much ‘fun’ of their mis-hearing of the lyrics….really puerile stuff.
    Great choice Jill and wonderful background info.

    Like

  2. Only one Desmond Dekkar album ever made it to Winnipeg, and I love every song on it. I did not know he had all those hits in Jamaica. Now I have to go have a look-see-listen.
    No, the words never made sense, I only had maybe 40% right, and I was not religious, but the Israelites was a catchy tune with lots of feeling. When I hear it or sing it, it stays with me for days. Same with others of his songs. I am sorry to hear he has left us…

    Liked by 1 person

      • Change begging to baking and you have the line I sang, lol. Yes, all of the songs you mentioned were on my album, but I cannot tell you another title for the life of me. Doesn’t matter though, that’s old age at work…

        Liked by 1 person

          • Never thought of it that way. I thought of another title last night, I think it is Itensified, or something similar. It has become my earwig for today, just the one word over and over. Now I gorra find that song. It’s killing me… lol. LuL.

            Liked by 1 person

              • No, I haven’t found Intensified yet, but I listened to some other Dekkar songs, and now I have the chorus to You Can Have It If You Really Want serenading me, with the occasional Intensified thrown in to break it up. I never allow myself to sing these aloud, or she will pay me back with some childish jingle, or theme to Gilligan’s Island, or somesuch. At least I like most of mine, hers drive me Beans in My Ears!

                Liked by 1 person

                • 🤣🤣🤣 I do that all the time … have 2 or 3 songs co-mingling inside my head! And give Gail a high-five for me … I sing the theme song to Gilligan’s Island fairly often, actually … ♫ The mate was a mighty sailing man, the skipper brave and sure … ♫

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  3. Hah – I didn’t need to read the words or listen to the song to know every note and nuance. Thanks for sharing the background of how the song came to be. This one slipped out of awareness, but not out of memory, and I grin as I sing it.

    Liked by 1 person

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