My 20 Favourite Bahamian Songs of All Time
By Ian Strachan
These songs are not in any particular order. And this list is entirely subjective. I didn’t do any research at all. I don’t know how many records or CDs were sold or how long it took for the songs to drop out of regular rotation. I’m going with all my favourites. Feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I got the titles of a few of these wrong either, so sorry in advance if I do.
1. “Going to Cat Island” by Exuma the Obeah Man. Exuma is one of my favourite Bahamian musical artists. A man who is, in my opinion, under-celebrated. But then again, we don’t celebrate artists, so what do I expect? This song beats out some of my other favourites by him like “Walking Home” and “Rude Boy.” Maybe it’s the harmonica. (Or was that a concertina?).
2. “Down Home” by Phil Stubbs. I was torn between this and “West End Move.” I think “Down Home” wins though. “When I’m walkin down those rocky narrow dirt roads/wit’ a basket of potatoes on my head” . . . what an opening.
3. “I Ain’t Askin’ for Much” by Ancient Man. This artist is aptly named. His singing voice takes us back to another Bahamas. And this song took Goombay music or Rake n Scrape to a higher level.
4. “6 and 4” by Patrick Rahming. For me it was a toss up between this and “Bain Town Woman”, but gambling is such a national obsession that I chose this one. This is one of the songs that gave me a clear and strong sense of my Bahamianess. Hearing our dialect immortalized in song was a vital form of affirmation.
5. “Andros Island” by The Magnetics. “The cats and the dogs and even bullfrogs, eatin crab fat and callin it dat.” Love this song and love the voice of the lead singer. Seeing as I spent some years in Andros as a kid, I’m biased.
6. “Shot Gun Wedding” by Ronnie Butler and the Ramblers. A long lost tradition, I tell you. We’re in need of a come-back. I think we’d solve a lot of problems with this.
7. “Naughty Johnny” by Eddie Minnis. One of the few recorded songs that became a ringplay instead of using ringplays as material.
8. “Got a Letter from Miami” by Priscilla Rollins. You hardly ever hear this on the radio. I suppose today’s DJs consider it ole timey. But it’s good stuff.
9. “Just Cause She Fat” by K. B. I realize that this is early KB but the early stuff is good stuff. Although I like the “Civil Servant” it lacks a certain dance-ability, if you know what I mean. Wait a minute . . . what about “Hard Heel Gal”?
10. “Look What You Could Get” by Ira Storr. A little slice of musical heaven.
11. “Pie” by Stileet. Some people are fond of songs that punctuate moments in their lives. I love this song because it would have captured perfectly how I felt during a bad relationship. Unfortunately, the song came out after I had freed myself. Still, it manages to “bring back memories.”
12. “Ghost Move” by Avvy. When I attended an elementary school’s Language Arts day and this song was sung by the children, I realized just how infectious and popular it was. I still don’t think the little kiddies should have been singing it though.
13. “Bring Back the Good Ole Days” by Sweet Emily. Do I need to elaborate, really?
14. “Burma Road” by Ronnie Butler. No song straightens your back quite like this medley. It is the quintessential “Bahamian thing.”
15. “Boom Pine Apple Wine” by Roachy. Funky, bumpin, hybrid Bahamian fun.
16. “Run Come See” by Blind Blake. Great music is timeless. A lot of youngsters have probably never heard of this man or heard any of his songs. We should fix that.
17. “Rake n Scrape Mama” by Lassie Doh and the Boys. A fun story, and even more fun tune. The men who made this created something out of love. So it’s no surprise I love it too.
18. “Da Mail” by King Eric. A song that reminds me of childhood, of sleepy Family Island settlements and of our elders, the folks we never spent enough time listening to or learning from. This song, although all about departure and separation, keeps me rooted.
19. “Funky Nassau” by Beginning of the End. Funk, rhythm and blues perfection. Soul. Soul. Soul. Music should have size. This song is big enough for the whole world.
20. “Get Involved” by Dr. Off. Man, what a textured, groovy Junka-jam! “Leave other people tings alone!”
I could easily have made this a list of 30 favourites. I look at my list and realize that a lot of my favourites aren’t even here, like Joseph Spence, T-Connection, Bahamen, Visage, Gino D, Dry Bread, Elon Moxey, Funky D, Terez, Nita, Papa Smurf and many more. But look, I’m at 800 words. My job is done. I’ll get to those others next time.
By: Ian Strachan
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