Saturday, November 24, 2012

Great Drinking Songs (37)

After a drizzly and miserable few days in Shanghai, I felt in need of a bit of a pick-me-up - and what better than this? The Banana Boat Song may not actually be about drinking (well, apart from that one reference to a drink o' rum seeing you through the night's work), but the infectious bounciness of it, the make-it-up-as-you-go-along simplicity of it, and the fact that we've all known it since childhood make it an irresistible singalong when you've been drinking.

When I was working in Canada in the late '90s, I remember once hearing on the radio a live concert performance of Harry Belafonte doing this song (I was in Sudbury, of all places; waiting in a car while a friend went to the bathroom; when she came back, she'd missed half of it, but we both just sat there, listening transfixed until it was over before we continued with our drive): it went on and on and on, Harry and his band having so much fun, they never wanted it to stop, and the audience singing along too. Coincidentally, this performance dates from almost exactly that time (well, I suppose it could be this performance that I heard that night; but I think the version I remember was even more exuberant, even longer).

And for a supplementary treat (or three), here's the original recording sung by a 29-year-old Harry...

And here he is doing it with The Muppets...

And finally, here's a possessed Catherine O'Hara breaking up her dinner party with it in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice.

Hmm, now I feel better!

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