♫ The Banana Boat Song ♫ (Redux, Redux)

Okay, so this is a double-replay, having played it in February 2019 and again in April 2020, but bear with me here.  First, I needed a break, having just finished writing a mega-rant and being already in high-stress mode from the anticipation of what this week will bring.  But then, a dear sweet friend, knowing of my mood, sent me a humorous take on this song that actually … gasp … made me laugh!  So, no sappy romance tunes or meaningful revolutionary songs tonight … just this … the Banana Boat Song — both the original version and the humorous one, thanks to our friend David.


This is a traditional Jamaican song that was sung by dock workers who worked throughout the night loading bananas onto ships. It’s daylight, and they look forward to the arrival of the Tallyman (who will take inventory) so they can go home.

Belafonte’s version used lyrics adapted by Irving Burgie and William Attaway.  Burgie, sometimes credited as “Lord Burgess,” is a popular Caribbean composer. Attaway was a novelist and songwriter who was friends with Belafonte. Burgie and Attaway wrote most of the songs on the Calypso album.

This remains the most popular mainstream calypso song, and the song most identified with Belafonte. It was not the first calypso hit in America, however. That honor goes to The Andrews Sisters – three white girls from Minnesota – who had a #1 in 1945 with “Rum and Coca-Cola,” a song written and originally recorded by the Trinidadian musician Lord Invader.

In 1956, folk singer Bob Gibson, who had traveled to Jamaica and heard the song, taught his version to the folk band The Tarriers. They recorded a version of that song that incorporated the chorus of “Hill and Gully Rider”, another Jamaican folk song. This release became their biggest hit, reaching number four on the pop charts, where it outperformed Belafonte’s version. The Tarriers’ version was recorded by Shirley Bassey in 1957 and it became a hit in the United Kingdom. The Tarriers, or some subset of the three members of the group (Erik Darling, Bob Carey and Alan Arkin, later better known as an actor) are sometimes credited as the writers of the song; their version combined elements of another song and was thus newly created.

Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)
Harry Belafonte

Day-o, day-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Me say day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

Work all night on a drink of rum
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Stack banana ’til de mornin’ come
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

Come, mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Come, mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

Lift six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

Day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

A beautiful bunch o’ ripe banana
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Hide the deadly black tarantula
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

Lift six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

Day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

Come, mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Come, mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

Day-o, day-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Me say day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

Songwriters: Dave Tanner / William Attaway / Harry Belafonte / Lord Burgess
Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) lyrics © Semi, Music Sales Corporation

16 thoughts on “♫ The Banana Boat Song ♫ (Redux, Redux)

  1. Pingback: Harry Belafonte Speaks — On The Election | Filosofa's Word

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