The Political Calypso: True Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago, 1962-1987

By Louis Regis | Go to book overview

5
"I, Eric Eustace Williams" 1976-1981

The petroleum prosperity of the early 1970s impacted on the political Calypso in ways that were separate yet related as are the diverse societal influences on the Calypso. First, it diminished the grounds for protest by making available to the general public lucre which financed a spiralling consumerism based on long-coveted American models. Secondly, the chief target of protest disappeared into the role of corporation sole from which fastness Williams disbursed revenues with an eye to his political image. This remote-control manipulation encouraged the growth of a cumbersome bureaucracy and unwieldy state sector, administered ineptly by officials profiting from a lack of supervision in an age when accountability was waived with the flourish that money was no problem. In consequence, the citizenry, conscious of squandermania yet unwilling to essay the dialectics of embattled neosocialist states such as Jamaica and Guyana, accepted fatalistically that Williams the provider was their destiny and consoled themselves in the carpe them philosophy of escapism through the twin anodynes of drugs and fete. Invitations to 'breakdown' parties blossomed from lampposts and walls hiding the harsher graffiti of earlier years, and everywhere the fete seemed the order of the day.

It was natural that the calypsonian should seek to profit from the fast expanding entertainment industry and, fortuitously, he had arrived at a new 'partyish' sound called 'soca'. Like so much else in the Calypso, the origins of soca are still being debated but one feels that the role of Lord Shorty deserves to be recognised and honoured in its creation.

Born into the largely indo-Trinidadian community of Lengua, South Trinidad, Shorty first used his familiarity with the melodies of India for subtle mockery ( "East Indian Singers" 1966; "Indrani" 1973) but The Love Man featured the dolak on most selections as Shorty sought rhythmic variation. Accused of trying to "Indianise" the music, he took the expression played by the dolak and put it on the drum set and thus arrived at the sound first heard on Endless Vibrations. 'Sokah', so spelt to reflect East Indian

-121-

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The Political Calypso: True Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago, 1962-1987
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations viii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • List of Abbreviations xv
  • 1 - The Calypso and Politics 1956-1962 1
  • 2 - The Model Nation 1963-1965 20
  • 3 - God Bless Our Nation 1966-1970 37
  • 4 - The Roaring Seventies 1971-1975 69
  • 5 - "I, Eric Eustace Williams" 1976-1981 121
  • 6 - "The Sinking Ship" 1982-1986 163
  • 7 - Happy Anniversary: the 25th Anniversary of Independence Calypso Monarch Competition 195
  • 8 - Ars Poetica 208
  • Conclusion 236
  • Afterword 238
  • Notes 240
  • Appendixes 257
  • Bibliography 269
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