John Holt Like Usain Bolt: Celebrating Jamaica
Big up for a big week in Jamaica. August 5: Fastest Man in the World Usain “I Am Actually Lightning” Bolt destroys the Olympic record in the 100m dash, setting a new one in 9.63 seconds. August 6: 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence (much Ting, Wray & Nephew overproof rum, and jerk chicken consumed, all highly recommended). August 9: Usain Bolt, in all of 19.32 seconds, becomes the first person ever to double-double in the 100m and 200m sprint – winning them both in Beijing and London, nearing peak speeds of 30mph in the process. He would be pulled over for speeding in residential neighborhoods and much of Washington, DC. Oh, he also celebrated by doing five pushups for his five golds shortly after crossing the line. BEAST! August 11: Jamaica wins the men’s 4x100m relay, with Bolt and Blake on the team, repeating the gold from Beijing, giving Bolt an unprecedented triple-triple! On the women’s side, here’s a shout out to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who on August 4 repeated her Beijing 100m gold with another one in London. And let’s not overlook Yohan Blake, another wickedly fast Jamaican sprinter, who got silver in the men’s 100 and 200, and whose personal 200 record is second only to Bolt’s in the world, and Warren Weir, who won bronze today, giving Jamaica a clean sweep of the men’s 200m.
(more on Bolt, Jamaica, and 9 fantastic songs after the jump)
Let it be said that despite some showing off on the track (like pointing to the camera and saying “Game time, baby!” right before the start of the 200), in interviews, Bolt comes across as surprising humble and respectful. I think it’s fair to grant him one more “to di world” pose, no?
Of course, there’s plenty to celebrate Jamaica for besides superhuman runners and deliciousness – its beauty, its history, its rich and distinctive culture, its sometimes impenetrable but truly wonderful patois. Oh, and its amazing contribution to the world of music: Ska, rock steady, reggae, dub, dancehall, and a heavy influence on the development of rap and hip-hop. Fifty years ago, Jamaica began its explosion onto the global music scene and has never backed down. How many of you like Bob Marley, The Specials, the Clash, or have got down to Sean Paul? Right, all of you. But there’s so much more than that.*
Such as John Holt, writer and wonderful singer of some of the best songs of Jamaican music’s golden age: the transition period away from rock steady and into the first few, earliest years of reggae, from about 1967-1973 or so. Apart from a very successful solo career, as lead singer of the Paragons (a truly apt name), Holt was responsible for many classics of the genre, such as “Have You Ever Been in Love”, “Wear You to the Ball”, “Island in the Sun”, “Riding on a High and Windy Day”, and of course, “The Tide is High,” which has been covered by every band and their mom, most notably Blondie. He knew he was indeed the paragon of the time, naming his 1973 compilation album John Holt Like a Bolt. How fitting for today!
(absolute MONSTER tune! The Paragons at their best)
(technically a cover, but excellent nonetheless)
(you’ve surely heard this before)
*Stay tuned for an in-depth post on Jamaican music coming soon on We Ball Harder