1001 Songs Challenge,  1940s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #25: Rum and Coca-Cola (1943)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!


Lord Invader – Rum and Coca-Cola (1943)

Rum and Coca-Cola

” Rum and Coca-Cola” is a popular calypso song composed by Lionel Belasco with lyrics by Lord Invader. The song was copyrighted in the United States by entertainer Morey Amsterdam and was a hit in 1945 for the Andrews Sisters.

Lyrics (via Genius)


We catch a flight to Trinidad for today’s song and sample a spot of calypso, Afro-Caribbean music that began life in Trinidad. This song’s origins can be found in the Second World War when thousands of US soldiers were stationed in Trinidad as a defensive measure. One local going under the name of Lord Invader penned Rum and Coca-Cola in response to the arrival of the US soldiers.

The song makes reference to the beverage of choice for the US soldiers but this is anything but a celebration of Americans. Lord Invader talks of mothers and daughters working hard for the yankee dollar, a clear indication of prostitution. Such is the wealth that the Americans have that the local women are spurning men in Trinidad to favour the soldiers. One unlucky soul is jilted by his bride to be who runs off with a US soldier for presumably a better life.

This is my first experience of calypso music and it was enjoyable despite the hard-hitting lyrics that Lord Invader throws at you. I was not familiar with the US stationing soldiers in Trinidad during the Second World War but based on this song it was clearly a divisive issue.


Favourite song so far:

Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit (1939)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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