Note: Notes from Rounder Records release "Calypso At Midnight" read: "The Trinidad Guardian proudly printed what it claimed to be the 'First Picture of King Edward VIII' on its front page on February 4, 1936. As the Prince of Wales, Edward had visited the island in 1920. He was a popular figurehead. By the end of 1936, news of the monarch was of a completely different nature. Successively, the Guardian's front page speculated on abdication during the second week of December, culminating in the headline 'King Renounces His Throne for Love' which was splashed across the broadsheet on the morning of December 11 (he had abdicated the day previous). This is an extremely important song in the rising popularity of calypso in the United States; it never was released in Britain. An instant hit following Lord Caresser's recording on February 16, 1937 (Decca 17298) the lyric was used as the centerpiece for a calypso drama at the Village Vanguard, New York that focused on the abdication of Edward VIII. No event startled Depression era Anglophones more than this abdication, and no song more captured the moment than this calypso. Melodically, the piece is taken from an old-time kalenda (or stick fighting) chant. Such compositions were used as the basis for layways (from the French, la voix, voice), or calypso road marches during the twentieth century."
About the session: A live recording of "Calypso At Midnight," a concert held at Town Hall, New York City, on December 21, 1946. Learning that Town Hall could be rented cheaply after regular theater hours, Alan Lomax produced a late-night concert series called The Midnight Special, which was thematically organized as "Blues At Midnight," "Ballads At Midnight," etc., and sponsored by the People's Songs Collective. The calypso concert recordings, made at Lomax's request and later found by chance in a closet by Bess Lomax Hawes, may be the only extant documents of this series. "This concert is a fascinating document of an American presentation of Trinidadian calypso at a time when interest in the genre was spreading from New York City into the mainstream of popular music in the United States" (Donald R. Hill and John H. Cowley, Calypso At Midnight [Rounder CD 1860])
Rights: The rights to the audio, photographic, and video materials contained within the Lomax Digital Archive are administered by various publishers, record labels, collectors, estates, and other rights holders. Any uses, commercial or not, must be cleared by the specific rights holders. For questions regarding the use of any material on the LDA, please contact Permissions.
Do you have something to add, or do you see an error in this record? We'd love to
hear from you.