Monday, December 25, 2017


FOR every occasion of our lives, we have a soundtrack to go with it.

For all the music I have heard through the years, I have been thinking what for me are the 12 favorite ALL TIME yuletide songs.

And this is the list I have come up with.

1.       Do They Know Its Christmas – Band-Aid

This song was released for the Christmas of 1984 – a time of famine in Africa; some general international turbulent political times, and we as a people trying to define ourselves in the world, one year after the American intervention.
  Great writing by Bob Geldof, who pulled off a star-studded cast to record the charity single that quickly shot to number one in the UK.

A poignant message as the song says:

When you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
…just remember

2. Celine Dion – So This is Christmas

Trademark top-class Celine vocals transform what was originally recorded by John Lennon as an anti-war yuletide Christmas song into a most soothing track

Can’t help but get the chills; and capture the mood of the season.

3. Mariah Carey – Christmas (Baby Please come Come)

When Mariah released her Christmas album in 1991 in the first Christmas of the YSFM years – I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. Every track right on – but this was for me the best.

The song was originally done by Darlene Love in the 1960s and there have been many covers, But Mariah’s for me took the Christmas cake.

4. Otis Redding – Merry Christmas Baby

The song was originally recorded in 1947 and like many of those songs there have been many covers – but the best of those to me is Otis Redding’s 1968 version.

Bruce Springsteen rocked a mean version in 1987 – but the cap is to one of the best soul voices of all time.

5. NAT KING COLE – O Holy Night & Come All Ye Faithful

I know this is crazy. But these two songs by Nat King Cole are some of my best music memories of Christmas in Munich.

Use to play this one on a battery-powered Phillips record player that my older brother J T bought (before the electricity days). The Nat King Cole record used to be spinning, while Mama and Avis putting up the new curtains for Christmas eve, before getting ready for midnight mass.

Cousin Morena had already baked a wicked coconut tart. Nesfield left for midnight movies in Grenville. But I was too young to go.

6. Jacob Killer Miller & Ray I – Silver Bells

Is another Munich memories in many ways. I think Turkey Roberts used to have this on repeat in his rum shop. Like it almost played 24-7

7.Carla Thomas - Gee Whiz Its Christmas

When you heard that song on the radio, you know it’s time to wait for Dadda coming from Grenville, having bought that little fire truck, or some other car – and waiting to see what Tanty Cussie brought for Derek Collymore also. And cleaning the Red Spot bottles; getting a full case, and waiting for the truck to pass, to get our quote of two cases for the year.

Collecting dry coconut shell form hope, and going to buy the charcoals. The ham cooking on a mean fireside.

Did you check the post office? Any letters came yet from Neri and Marcelle (now both resting in peace) with the little US and a few pounds in there.

Waiting for a call by Cousin Ceethay – your one phone call for the year.

Dave Elcock on the radio. Alright, Gee Whiz – it's Christmas.

“Oh, by the way, it’s snowing!” – well not really. But we can fantasize.

(Always struck me – why a sweet song was so short?)

8. Vanessa Williams -Go Tel It To The Mountain/Mary Had a Boy Child

Just thought that was so hauntingly beautiful. One of the best versions of the medley – and a YSFM hit -days memory.

Yes, Janice Augustine, those tracks used to come on the hit discs.

9. O HOLY NIGHT - Mariah Carey
What can I say about those stunning vocals?

10: Mary's Boy Child /Oh My Lord – Boney M

There is something Radio Grenada-ish and Jeffery Aired-ish about this.
A real Christmas smash packed with glitz, campery and an uplifting Christmas message.
Just particularly love the “Oh my Lord” parts….

Oh my Lord
You sent your son to save us
Oh my Lord
Your very self you gave us
Oh my Lord
That sin may not enslave us
And love may reign once more

11. Joy To The World - Mariah Carey

Mariah takes a traditional song and fashions it into a genuine feel-good “forget your sorrows and dance” kind of vibe.  Making it a world celebration in skilfully sampling Three Dog Night (

And if this doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit, I don’t know what will.

Joy to the world, all the boys and girl…

(Nicole Best did you not try to do this one time?)

12: Someday At Christmas – The Jacksons

A song essentially about peace in the world. First recorded 50 years ago by Stevie Wonder this Christmas. Still relevant.

Someday at Christmas men won't be boys
Playing with bombs like kids play with toys
One warm December our hearts will see
A world where men are free

Someday at Christmas, there'll be no wars
When we have learned what Christmas is for
When we have found what life's really worth
There'll be peace on earth

SOUL HOLIDAYS – Sound of Blackness

Trademark Terry Jamz, with the haunting lead vocals of Ann Nesby; flavored by black gospel traditions.  A YSFM Christmas hit. What say Marvin Ranks?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dear Comrade – be like Maurice, not Robert!

There have been some solid advisers around the region, who told me this past week, avoid getting into a tit—for-tat with the honourable Comrade in Kingstown.

  That’s exactly where he wants the debate to go – to be a complete distraction to the difficult economic times at home; and the many questions being raised, fairly or unfairly, about the very legitimacy of his rule.

   I quickly dismissed my dear Comrade as a typical Caribbean politician who has been there for too long. He came in with great purpose – at a time when we all cheered with excitement from Munich, Grenada to Soufriere Dominica and to Bolans, Antigua. His was supposed to be the second coming of Maurice Bishop; but is now quickly turning out more to be that of Robert Mugabe – a  washed-up, sold out “progressive” on the altar of political ego.

   And like Mugabe, he is now running out of time, and running out of ideas.

   In dismissing me as a “paid operative” of the opposition – as if it is that group with the DNA of counterfeit and bribery – he effectively signed off on the attempt of state harassment not just of me, but of anybody there who dared to be fresh enough to raise ideas that run counter to that of “Papa”.

   I had dismissed the incident of last week, as the act of one overzealous officer, who took it on his own, believing he was acting in the best interest of “papa” to try to abuse his perceived power.

  But once the dear Comrade opened his mouth, it was clear that it was fully sanctioned by him.

 The Prime Ministers’ explanations and his so-called attempted put-down of this interfering Grenadian, revealed more that perhaps he wanted to.

  His panic. His pettiness. His brilliant undisguised stupidity. His overflowing seminal for mischief.

  I don’t have a direct response to the verbal diabetic nonsense to my dear long-time Comrade. You don’t dignify an undignified rant, unless you clothe the man in the legitimacy and the reverence he covets.

   The Comrade has evolved into a politician who thinks the conscience of a nation is a commodity that can be traded in the marketplace of fear of reprisal.

  He thinks of voters as commodities; and so he rightfully thinks I am one too. So I understand his mind-set.

   His forces trade in buying votes. I trade in ideas. Some even say mischief. Well if that’s what you call it, fair enough!

  A man who fought for an otherwise elusive fourth term on the backs of a brazen daylight abuse of state resources and staggering handouts that looked even indecent to the most tolerant of us – has no authority to lecture anyone.

  His politics now has a morality of its own.

   With a difficult budgetary period facing him, this aging roadblock revolutionary, should maybe stop using his time in a ceaseless campaign against his “enemies”, and get down to managing the fragile economy to the best interest of his proud people.

   St Vincent’s problems are bigger than any perceived nightmare this writer may give him.

   I will soon go on to the next assignment – whether its politics, sports or entertainment.  But there are thousands of great people in St Vincent – fishermen in Georgetown; farmers in Mesopotamia; squatters in the bayside ghettos of west Kingstown; young people who feel they have to suck-up to political and other patronage to get ahead – for me to be the subject debate.

  The problems of the country are large, and deserve the full time attention of all its leaders.

  By skilfully inserting me into the conversation, our dear Comrade seeks to cheapen the debate with a currency of insults and innuendo.

  As regards my incident, our dear Comrade must make up his mind whether he wants to govern a respectful genuine democracy; or he wants to have a state ran by ill-trained and overzealous police men operating as his goons and mongoose gang to force the Garifuna people into submission.

  He would have remembered that he took to a platform an Argyle during the election n campaign and sought to incite an entire crowd of his supporters against me, while I was standing at the side of the stage covering his rally. His inciting had people throwing things at me, and even he himself had to acknowledge he had to pull it back.

  I stood my ground in front of a crowd of eight thousand. What makes him think I’d retreat now?

   I have spent extensive time in every single eastern Caribbean country in the last few years, and St Vincent and the Grenadines is the most political divisive of all of them; where political spite is a loud part of the official policy.

  Statistics show St Vincent and the Grenadines has the worst performing economy in the eastern Caribbean; and it is at a time and place where its maximum leader can tout as one of its successes more people being added to “poor relief”

  This however is a worrying commentary on how the economic construct has failed to empower people.

  Spreading welfare is not spreading socialism.

  That’s why new leaders have to emerge – to carry the message of Maurice and Hugo; to deliver the dreams of liberation of Fedon and Chatoyer.

Friday, January 29, 2016

A fascinating man we still don’t know

(Trying to decode Nazim Burke, the man who wants to be Grenada's Prime Minister)

I have watched Naz up close and personal for many years. I have listened to him from afar.

My first interfacing with him in local politics was when he was the Public Relations Officer of the National Democratic Congress.

We used to have one-on-ones. I was told that I should get to know him; someone, I was made to understand, who is bright and a next leader of the country.

I used to come out of those meetings with an unfeeling dissatisfaction equivalent of a one-night stand. You went in excited, and you came out disappointed.

I was reminded of that when I heard him at the press conference this past week – part lecturer, part full-of-himself, part dismissive of the world outside.

All on display, were the million and one reasons he fails to connect. 

He needs to get out more; meet more people, we all say. And maybe there is a point to that.

But the more you get to know him, the more you come out not being too sure about him.

And that’s the dilemma NDC faces. You need to expose him, and then you need to hide him.

The proverbial rock and a hard place scenario, that just leaves you shaking your head saying – “poor thing.”

He is many things, but most of all – the king of vacillation; the master of talking up both sides of an issue and not deciding; a calculating (though of the miscalculating variety) political operative; caught up in his own world that misses many realities on the ground.

What his dwindling admirers see as his strength, is his eternal weakness.

Sometimes you can’t follow his political analysis – that defies common minds – that forces you to dismiss it as well – “I guess he is brighter than all of us.”

Like the issue of the constitutional reform. He has no problems with the recommendations. But he will vote against them, because he has problems with the others that are not there.

The lawyer in him should know very well about negotiated settlements; about inching towards a destination.

The miscalculating politician in him – his overriding character – cerebrally subscribes to an unsustainable, impractical – all or nothing.

And that is why people still don’t trust him. Not that he is bad guy. In fact, I think he is a good guy.

But people really don’t know who he is – and they don’t ever feel – for better or worse – what they see is what they get.

Naz’s biggest problem is not his self-declared “political enemies” as he sees them– including Peter Wickham, a political scientist and pollster from Barbados who conceivably, according to Naz, does have a dog in the Grenada political fight.

The problem he has with people like Wickham, is the same problem he had with the people he voted on the floor of the NDC convention to have expelled in 2012.

People that might challenge his own view of the world and suggest there just might be an alternative universe to his own.

It is that fear of an alternative view on the table, that has made him, conceivably engineered the exclusion of Franka, Tricks and Vincent from the NDC executive. Knowing him, he might have even convinced them that is a good thing.

But to give him the benefit of the doubt, for all you know what he said might be correct – he wanted the three to have more time to be on the ground.

Except– being on the executive is not exactly a full time political activity. He remains leader and certainly he will hit the ground at some point. One facilitates the other; not take away.

It may be a cruel accident that the only caretakers he cared to keep on the executive are some of his biggest supporters – Joseph Andall – as deputy leader and Randal Robinson – now promoted to PRO.

And it might just be cruel political irony that the people he replaced Bernadine, Tricks and Vincent with are his closest allies – and his enforcers from his St George’s North East constituency.

Heaven knows Naz has been beaten up – but he is his own worst punisher.

He has a wayward devil in his head that keeps advising him on untimely political ejaculation, such as he did this week at his weekly press conference in beating up on Ingrid Rush – the same woman he said is irrelevant.

Why waste time beating up on an irrelevant woman?

It’s one thing to disagree with Ingrid. But it’s a long shot to hate on her.

Franklyhaving worked with Naz before – the endearing feeling I always had is a recurring frustration with a man, who has some intellectual grounding – only if he could find an effective way to put in into play in the real world for the good of not just himself – but all of mankind.

That many people believe Naz is unfeeling is not a myth. It is a reality borne out by history.

But I have always wondered how this Carriacou boy ended up here. Naz is from genuine working class stock. And he has to know the struggle; our struggle.

But you will never know that by just interfacing with the man.

And I say that not as a criticism; but with keen philosophical interest.

There is an enigma that is worth further study – and perhaps a lot of patience to decode – the kind of patience a five-year electoral cycle won’t afford him.

But enigmas are both interesting and boring at the same time. And they don’t end up running countries.

(For the unsuspecting: Naz is Nazim Burke, the former Finance Minister of Grenada who two years ago took over the decimated opposition. Franka is Franka Bernadine - his fellow senator and the woman who challenged his leadership. Tricks is Patrick Simmons, the now former General Secretary who once considered challenging Burke as leader. Vincent is George Vincent, another fellow senator, who some say had internally questioned the effectiveness of Burke's leadership).