Mama Look A Boo Boo! [Song]


Uploaded by ScorpioPetey

MAMA LOOK AH BOO BOO
By Lord Melody (Fitzroy Alexander) 1956
This version performed by Lord Christo

I wonder why nobody doh like me
Is it a fact that I’m ugly?
Tell me why nobody doh like me
Is it a fact that I’m ugly?
I leave mih whole house and go
My children doh want me no more
They cursing black is white and thing
And when I talk dey start to sing.

"Mama look a Boo Boo!" they shout
Dey mother told dem, "Shut up yuh mouth!"
"That is yuh Daddy."
"Oh no, my Daddy can't be ugly so!"
"Shut yuh mouth, go away!"
"Mama, look a Boo Boo dey!"
"Shut yuh mouth, go away!"
"Mama, look a Boo Boo dey!"

I couldn’t even digest my supper
Due to the children's behaviour
"John", "Yes Pa," "Come here a moment,
Bring de strap, you too damn cudgelent."
"Daddy, is Jean who start to curse."
"No Daddy, is Joyce who start off first!"
I drag mih belt from off mih waist
If you see races out de place.

"Mama look a Boo Boo!" they shout
Dey mother told dem, "Shut up yuh mouth!"
"That is yuh Father."
"Oh no, my Father can't be ugly so!"
"Shut yuh mouth, go away!"
"Mama, look a Boo Boo dey!"
"Shut yuh mouth, go away!"
"Mama, look a Boo Boo dey!"

So I took a turn on their mother
"These children ain't got no behaviour
Ah can't rest in peace in mih own place
Tell me what is wrong with mih damn face?"
"They playing with you," mih wife declare
"You should be proud of them, my dear."
"These children were taught too blooming slack
That ain't no kind ah joke to crack."

"Mama look a Boo Boo!" they'll shout
And you will tell dem, "Shut up dey mouth!"
"That is yuh Father."
"Oh no, our Daddy can't be ugly so!"
"Shut yuh mouth, go away!"
"Mama, look a Boo Boo dey!"
"Shut yuh mouth, go away!"
"Mama, look a Boo Boo dey!"

My wife and I had a big disturbance
Due to the constant annoyance
So in order to live peaceful and happy
She send the children in the country
Coming home a dark night after working hard
A woman see me and she faint 'way in mih yard,
The neighbour ran to help her up
She recover but the woman wouldn’t stop.

"Neighbour, I see a Boo Boo, oh lawd!
Walking in de backyard, oh lawd!"
I ran to assist her, she bawl
"Oh lawd, look de Boo Boo man still in the yard!"
"Shut yuh mouth, go away!"
"Neighbour, look a Boo Boo dey!"
"Shut yuh mouth, go away!"
"Neighbour, look a Boo Boo dey!"

Source: The lyrics posted on this blog are often transcribed directly from performances. Although it is my intention to faithfully transcribe I do not get all the words and I have a knack for hearing the wrong thing. Please feel free to correct me or to fill in the words that I miss by dropping me a message via e-mail. I'd be forever grateful. Thanks in advance!
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A Note From The Gull

Why would a song like “Mama Look Ah Boo Boo” find itself included in a collection of works on the topic of Trinidad and Tobago? I was listening to this song recently, chuckling over Lord Melody’s voice energetically conveying the distress of the father. I was finding uncharitable delight in the ineffectual protests of the wife and the children’s and neighbour’s unrelenting characterization of the poor, hard-working, but ugly man as a terrifying Boo Boo. Thinking afterwards about the song and remembering Ateebo's poem "Look Devil Dey!" a less amusing interpretation came to mind. This is a wonderful song to exemplify our readiness as Trinidadians (by no means peculiar to Trinidadians), to separate ourselves morally from the easy targets around us in our society.

One of the most prominent groups of practicing and ritual “Boo Boos” in our society are to be found among some of our leaders. With our nod, we keep them in power, but then turn our backs and walk away whistling, relieved to know that somebody else will take care of our business. Someone else being in charge, is the excuse to revert to a pre-adult state, where we can reap the benefits of Papa’s hard work or cry neglect and abuse (or Boo Boo!) when the pursuit of interests injurious to our own, robs us of the security that is due to us as the helpless and dependent children we have chosen to be.

So we start to shout, “Mama, look a Boo Boo!” because now the Daddy must be seen in a different light, if we are to preserve our innocence and separateness from the source of all societal ills. Despite the attempts by the more loyal, more forgiving, more indulgent, we refuse to be placated. Something is very wrong and now that we are being forced to feel the pain, someone else has to be held accountable.

Now I really loved the Mama’s, “Shut yuh mouth, go away!” “Dat is yuh father!” and the incredulous, scandalized response of the children, “Oh no! My Daddy cyah be ugly so!!

My Daddy cyah be ugly so??

Good morning, Trinidad and Tobago!! It’s in the spiritual/societal genes. Our Daddy is every bit as ugly as WE are. Hog plums can fall and roll but dey cyah deny their connection to de tree! Some of us, myself included, look upon our leaders and find them to be flawed and weak and ugly and we are quite happy to derisively shout, along with the other detractors, “Look a Boo Boo dey!” Beside ourselves with righteous indignation, like the children blown away by what they saw as ugliness incarnate, we are not willing to accept for one minute that the unlovely target of our curses and ridicule is our own "creation," our own "father," our own "flesh and blood".

Now, I am not saying that we should ever be willing to look upon any leader as our “father” on any level, even if he is given the title, “Father of the Nation” but I believe that we should be less willing to ignore the fact that in the hidden earth, all our roots are entwined, that we are all related, leaders and followers, the nice and the not so nice, the Boo Boos and their callous, unforgiving children.

We need to take a long hard look in the mirror and find the Boo Boos in ourselves before pointing fingers and engaging in name calling. When we can honestly no longer find traces of Boo Boo there, there will be a new relationship between ourselves and the stewards we employ to co-pilot this society. As the adult ascends, the Boo Boo and his influence will retreat and fade away, quite naturally.

The titillating activity of pointing out the Boo Boo in another is easily accomplished. It is child’s play compared to the sobering realization that we are the source of Boo Boo energy and its continued sustenance, and it is we who have to experience this realization and scourging before standing up and accepting the responsibilities of our passage into adulthood.

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Thank you Lord Melody.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

2 comments:

eleanor said...

"When we can honestly no longer find traces of Boo Boo there, there will be a new relationship between ourselves and the stewards we employ to co-pilot this society. As the adult ascends, the Boo Boo and his influence will retreat and fade away, quite naturally." Thank you Laughing Gull, for these ever so true words that communicate, as we disussed recently, the firt responsibility, not to the other but to ourselves.
I appreciate your ability to discern the meaning of this wonderful poem. It's cruelty, love, insistence and the steady trust of the child speaks richly to me.

Guanaguanare said...

Thanks Eleanor. I am sure that the composer intended this only to be enjoyed as a fun calypso, but I am always surprised to find unintended lessons in unlikely places.

By "steady trust" of the child do you mean that in the sense of the innocent child who calls it as he sees it, as in "The Emperor is naked!"

If so, would you say then that the only ones among us who can be brutally honest about another's faults are the ones who are innocent? The rest of us should exercise some tact and patience, while putting our own houses in order, because we are complicit and recognise our own nakedness in the Emperor's?