I’ve already referred to this not-really so big news as being like a zombie. You know? Dead, but undying. And it reminded me that, despite the horror movie latter-day fixation with zombies, the arts haven’t always treated the idea with foreboding. The zombie has also been the target of mirth, which I witnessed in the early 1970s, during three very happy vacations in Barbados.
Barbados, at 432 square kilometres, is a tiny dot on really big maps., in the Lesser Antilles archipelago, very close to South America. Once part of the British Empire, Barbados is now a sovereign country.
Although there were some very posh resorts, for the most part the island was, to my eye, largely unspoiled by rampant development. I’d love to go again some day, but I’m afraid it would be a disappointment. Be that as it may. It’ll remain in what’s left of my memory for always.
Barbados is beloved for its contribution to the world of liquor. It claims the oldest continuously operating rum distillery on the planet. Mount Gay Rum is sold world-wide, and, in fact, I bought a 750 ml bottle this afternoon at Trader Joe’s.
This tiny country is also home to a contemporary pop-culture phenomenon. You’ll know her as Rhianna.
Anyway. Back to the zombies. While in Barbados the first time, I stayed in a resort that had live music every night. I was there for a couple of weeks, and I heard the Sandpebbles, at the time an extremely popular Calypso band, twice. In a bit you’ll be able to listen to them. But first, I must tell you about Calypso. Besides being the name of Jacques Cousteau’s research ship, Calypso is the name of a multi-facetted art form. Calypso is a dance step, a genre of music, and its themes are a sort of zeitgeist that harkens back decades. I don’t know how much it influenced Reggae, but I can say that performers, the beat, and [sometimes] the subjects of both genres overlap, kind of like a Venn diagram.
I don’t know if I’ve ever had as much fun as I did on those vacations. But, who cares?
The photo at right features a Mini Moke, a soft-top vehicle that tourists can rent to explore the island. My friends and I rented a MiniMoke one afternoon. After much inhalation of the island and its liquid refreshments, we found ourselves somewhere in the middle of the island, undear the only street lamp that was visible in the moonless and starless pitch blackness, surrounded by sugarcane fields—kind of like a corn maze—with no idea which way to go. We’d been trying to find our way back to a coast—we cared not which coast—which would make it easier to find our way back to the hotel.
Bajans, how they refer to people born there, are mad about cricket, and mad about partying.
I want to commemorate those days, and the recent re-invigoration of the La Chapelle-aux-Saint burial claim, by introducing you to a song that I heard first in Barbados, and never forgot.
So, I want to leave you with a recording of the ever-popular Caribbean classic, “Zombie Jamboree,” as recorded by the SandPebbles.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!