Song of the Week 1 – Many Rivers to Cross

Hello my fellow musicophilliacs,

A friend of mine did this Song of the Week thing before, and I thought
it was an inarresting idea. It’s a nice way to pass along musical
discoveries. Feel free to have a go.

This week’s song is (drumroll): Many Rivers to Cross by Jimmy Cliff.

I discovered it by way of this cover version on Harry Nilsson’s John Lennon produced Pussycats. Lennon would have discovered it via the Jamaican crime movie The Harder They Come (1972), a breakthrough movie for reggae, featuring the music and acting abilities of Jimmy Cliff, which was released in 1973 in New York. Incidentally, you can check out the movie for free on youtube. They’ve since removed the full movie, but here’s the first 10 minutes to whet your appetite:

Here´s a Guardian article with Jimmy Cliff talking about the film and how he was chosen for the role, along with fellow amateur actor (then a teacher) Carl Bradshaw who writes about his experience. The first Jamaican film made by Jamaicans.

Lennon tried to mimic the reggae sound in some of his later solo work.

When Harry sang (and screamed) for that album he had a) smoked too many cigarettes and b) drank too many “I’ll have whatever he’s having” Brandy Alexanders. As a result his voice was a little
tender. It’s a fantastic version nonetheless.

The original, by Mr Cliff, is still my favourite though. Enjoy…

And now for a really bad joke:

What did the boy octopus say to the girl octopus?
I want to hold your hand hand hand hand hand hand hand hand.

P.S. Lennon recorded his own demo of it too. He forgets half the
lyrics. Have a listen:

Now, that’s probably too many rivers to cross for one day, so I’ll be
off. Next weeks theme is bridges over troubled waters. Not really.

Tune in next week for another exciting episode…

4 thoughts on “Song of the Week 1 – Many Rivers to Cross

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