Closing off another “Black History Month“, today’s Oldies Sunday selection salutes another Black talent who has made an impact on the world and the music culture. Today, we check out Calypso Icon Mighty Sparrow, and go back into time to check out his track, “Jean & Dinah” a.k.a. “Yankee’s Gone“.
Arranged by Cyril Diaz And His Orchestra and released through the Kay label in 1956, this was a song that featured Mighty Sparrow shedding light on the large-scale Prostitution that American Military bases supported in Trinidad and Tobago during the post-war period, the desperation that many Prostitutes went through after the closure of said bases, and the departure of the troops. He mentions a few names other than “Jean & Dinah” (The track was also called “Jean & Diana”) who did what they had to do to make a sale, but when things got bad, their businesses had to downscale. Sparrow also mentions that Night Clubs were feeling the pinch too as they were the go to spots for Military personnel to hang out, and the meet up spot for many Prostitutes to conduct business. With Sparrow’s social commentary and well written lyrics, “Jean & Dinah” became not only his first hit, but the song lead to him becoming a winner in the 1956 Trinidad Road March competition, and wearing the crown at the 1956 Calypso King/Monarch competition. “Jean & Dinah” has become one of his most famous songs, and it helped him to bring Calypso music to various parts of the world. It was covered by American Actor Robert Mitchum in 1957 (A Gentrification move?). A true legend, Mighty Sparrow went on to become “The Calypso King Of The World“, and his influence, sound, and wit birthed generations of artists and the blending of musical styles.