Belafonte’s greatest hits

Singer Harry Belafonte has certainly fulfilled his mother’s dream. Belafonte was born in the United States in 1927 after his mother emigrated from Jamaica in search of opportunity. But in recent years his career has slipped. It is good to see him back on the charts with a new hit that he unveiled on his recent Venezuelan tour:

“No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we’re here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people … support your revolution.”

While this idea enjoys steady sales, not all the critics are impressed. The Washington Post, for example, notes that:

Venezuela’s human rights community is under siege. Its troubles ought to send a message to anyone who still wonders whether President Hugo Chavez intends to preserve the democratic system that brought him to power.

Notwithstanding such petty sniping, Mr. Belafonte’s admirers are happy to see him back on the charts. Prior to the “Paean to Chavez” single, some were beginning to wonder if his career was over because it had been more than 3 years since his last chart topper – “Colin Powell – House Slave”:

“In the days of slavery, there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and there were those slaves that lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master … exactly the way the master intended to have you serve him.”

Mr. Belafonte had had a string of minor successes, including this clever lyric on Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice –

“Hitler had a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy of the Third Reich. Color does not necessarily denote quality, content or value.”;

wherein he was able to combine anti-Semitism and denigration of achievement with the obligatory comparison of George Bush to Adolph Hitler; and this classic blame-America riff:

Sept. 11 “wasn’t just Bin Laden. Bin Laden didn’t come from the abstract. He came from somewhere, and if you look where … you’ll see America’s hand of villainy.”

For obvious reasons, much of his work in the last few years has been seen as merely derivative, and has been considered unlikely to garner any serious awards.

However, he is also a long time admirer of Ho Chi Minh and supporter of Fidel Castro, “If you believe in freedom! If you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy– you have no choice but to support Fidel Castro!” So, his fans have new hope that his latest work (with backup man Hugo Chavez), may earn a Nobel Prize.

Though he is following the pattern laid down by previous winners, it still seems unlikely. Mr. Belafonte is no Jimmy Carter. Nevertheless, in the interest of furthering Mr. Belafonte’s Nobel chances, he might consider re-recording his 1956 hit “Day-O” with different words:

Cas-tro, Ca-ah-ah-stro
Cuba’s fine: denigrate me home
Cas, me say cas, me say cas, me say cas, me say ca-ah-ah-stro
Cuba’s fine: denigrate me home

Soros, Chomsky, Castro, Ho
Just four fine gents that hate me home
Chavez, Saddam, Kim-Jong, Che
Propaganda ‘til the break of day

Come, Mr. Nobel Man, rally in Havana
Cuba’s fine: denigrate me home
Come, Mr. Nobel Man, rally in Havana
Cuba’s fine: denigrate me home