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Day-O - The Banana Boat Song

A Traditional Mento Folksong that Became an International Hit

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Banana Boat Song History

"The Banana Boat Song," which was popularized by Harry Belafonte in the 1950s under the name "Day-O," is a traditional Jamaican mento folksong that is embedded in both the mento and calypso traditions. The song is a traditional song sung by workers on the docks of banana plantations, and describes the early-morning banana boat loading process. The song lyrics are generally written in Jamaican Patois.

The Banana Boat Song has been parodied multiple times, including a notorious pro-war parody titled "Run Mr. Taliban," of which Harry Belafonte, a pacifist, strongly disapproved.

Banana Boat Song Lyrics

The song is typically sung with a lead singer taking the first line of each couplet and a group responding with "Daylight come and me wan' go home," call-and-response style. Different versions obviously vary in that regard, as well as in regard to lyrics. This set of lyrics is the song as performed by Harry Belafonte, as arranged by Irving Burgie, other versions change the order of phrases and occasionally add or discard certain phrases.

Day-o, Day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Work all night on a drink a' rum
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Stack banana till de mornin' come
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Come, Mister tally-man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home

It's six foot, seven foot, eight foot, bunch!
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Six foot, seven foot, eight foot, bunch!
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Day-o, day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home

A beautiful bunch o' ripe banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Hide the deadly black tarantula
Daylight come and me wan' go home

It's six foot, seven foot, eight foot, bunch!
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Six foot, seven foot, eight foot, bunch!
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Day-o, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Come, Mister tally-man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Day-o, day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Notable Versions of The Banana Boat Song

Louise Bennett - "Banana Boat Song" - 1954
Harry Belafonte - "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" - 1955 (Listen/Download)
The Tarriers - "The Banana Boat Song" - 1957 (Listen/Download)
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