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Pan men originally wrote songs
Posted By: Steve Taylor
Date: Wednesday, 22 March 2006, at 7:14 p.m.
As a follow up on my earlier post regarding steelbands becoming their own song publishers. This is not a new concept. What is new is that they should organize themselves professionally in order to meet the challenges coming in this century. There is no patience and ignorance of the law like long time. People have very short fuses and in need of money more than before. It use to be a person could have picked two green mangoes, two tomatoes, two cucumbers, a cabbage, a pepper and a few lettuce leaves and make himself a wonderful salad. Not so any more. Only a few people have backyard gardens. The majority will have to buy these items on their way home. So money is needed at every turn. Families of deceased song writers will be knocking at publishers and bands’ doors. “We believe you have some money for us from the songs of our beloved”. So things will be done with less sentiments and more with greater issues of life on earth.
Steelbands in the very beginnings in the 40’s, and early 50’s were their own song writers. When a band composed a rhythm and added a pan note here and there, and they played it, that was an original song. They would compete with each other in rhythms, pan notes and when human jealousy and envy stepped in, they will have a violent fight with dangerous weapons. They would then go home crying and cursing, but will be writing a new song on what just took place. Here’s is what an eye witness in those days said.
“Ellie was the first person who people see tuning the iron to the pitch of the pan. He would put it down there and burn dat iron and burn it until he get dat sound. That is why "Invaders" had dat unique sound. But the man, who was rivaling him, is Sonny Roach from "Sun Valley". Sonny Roach was also a gifted tuner and this is where in 1949 "Invaders" played in a competition at the Savannah 'It's magic' and won the competition. Sonny Roach band "Sun Valley" came second and "Cross Fire", who split from "Tripoli", came third. Then there was another competition where "Invaders" won and "Sun Valley" came second down town and Sonny Roach went home with "Bajan" Cecil and penned a tune called "Sun Valley Coming Down":
"Invaders bound to run
and when they see de Sun
it's The Valley coming down
Invaders only farse
with they dutty sailor mas"
Even "Casablanca" and all had little tunes like, "Why ya run, why ya run Invaders" and all ah these things, ("Invaders" had a king made by Birdie, "The Birdie Mambo") and "Keep ya daughters inside because Invaders boys outside". These were tunes that started to be composed from by the steelband.” End of Quote
This was taken from Trinbagopan.com site. All credits goes to them. It was spoken by Norman Darway the eye witness.
Talk about natural song writers. The Birdie referred to above is Birdie Mannette, brother of Ellie.
As calypsonians like Sparrow began to appear in 56, things switched to playing their songs. I saw many times it is said that Ray Holman as a pan man first began to write songs for the pan. This is an incorrect statement. He is the first to write a panorama song for pan which was accepted. But previously songs were written by pan men who played in pan bands from the beginning of their era. Pan bands and by extension pan players, are natural song writers and they should continue this trend in a professional manner. It will pay them tremendously for a long time. Never under estimate the value of a song. A music business law.
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