Jimmy Cliff – “Many Rivers To Cross”
A conversation I had about Many Rivers To Cross today.
Me: Have you got a copy of Many Rivers To Cross by Jimmy Cliff.
Her: Yes. It’s great.
Me: You couldn’t play it down the phone to me.
Her: Sure. I’ll just try and find it.
Me: Is it quite sparse, arrangement-wise? All I can think of then I think of the song is the Aswad version which is pretty syrupy.
Her: Did Aswad do a version?
Me: I think they did. Didn’t everyone soft reggae do a version?
Her: UB40 did a rubbish version. I know that because I am from the Midlands and UB40’s career is etched in my brain as some sort of racial memory.
Me: Oh Christ, it was the UB40 version. Sorry Aswad. You know Aswad were pretty hardcore when they started, like Steel Pulse.
Her: What? Sorry, still looking. I thought it would be in this pile. Hold on, what’s this? A operatic version of The Handmaid’s Tale directed by Phylidia Law. Isn’t that Emma Thompson’s mum?
Me: Yes. Put that on while you keep looking.
Scary opera of The Handmaid’s Tale goes on. The clacking of hundreds of out of order, badly indexed and containing the wrong disc anyway CD’s continues.
Me: Doesn’t matter if you can’t find it.
Her: No, no I’ve got it here somewhere. Maybe in the reggae section.
Me: Why didn’t you start there?
Her: I don’t really think of Jimmy Cliff as reggae.
Me: Okay. Er-
Her: (Defensive) I thought it would be in the singer-songwriter section. Or the dead bloke section.
Me: How many sections have you got?
Her: It’s not my record collection, it’s my husbands. Sorry. Maybe I leant it to someone. I was listening to it last week.
Me: It doesn’t matter, I just said I’d write about it on Freakytrigger because it has been getting in the way of finishing the Top 100 Singles.
Her: What number is it?
Her: What was number one.
Me: I can’t tell you.
Me: If I told you then you would tell other people, negating the exciting point of a chart countdown. Anyway, you heard it last week, how does it go? Is the arrangement sparse? I think it would have a sparse arrangement. Does it sound like seventies reggae?
Her: It sounds like Many Rivers To Cross. You know?
Me: All I remember is the UB40 version.
Her: Well in your case then, it sounds better than Many Rivers To Cross.
Conclusion: Many Rivers To Cross is great because it sounds better than rubbish versions of itself that I can’t get out of my head.