RIP, Harry Belafonte

“When you grow up, son, never ever go to bed at night knowing that there was something you could have done during the day to strike a blow against injustice and you didn’t do it.”
― Harry Belafonte, My Song: A Memoir

I goin’ talk to Miss Brigit Bardot
And tell her “Miss Bardot take it slow”
All the men think they’re Casanova
When they see that she’s bare foot all over
Even old men out into beaker
Find their hearts getting weaker and weaker
So I goin’ to ask her for your sake and mine
At least to wear her earrings part at the time
And I’m singing
Back to back, belly to belly
Don’t give a damn, done dead already
Uh-oh, back to back, belly to belly
At the Zombie Jamboree, oh

— Harry Belafonte, Zombie Jamboree (Back to Back)

Harry Belafonte was always the guy who was going to live forever. He was a time machine back to the 50’s and 60’s, when the world was innocent, at least on the surface. He brought a joyful naughtiness to the vanilla music scene, and he brought energy. Songs like Zombie Jamboree and Jump in the Line were and are music to make you move and make you smile. This is joyful music that makes you happy to be alive.

The peak of Belafonte’s career was well before my time, but you just look at the popular music of the era, and he just stands out. He also stood up, fighting for civil rights at a time when his prominent voice and magnetism made a big difference. He’s one of those people who seemed larger than life well beyond his active days. And now that his days are done, he will continue to live on for the joyful music he brought to the world, and the positive change he helped inspire.

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