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Jimmy Cliff: Crossing Many Rivers to Fame

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Jimmy Cliff has been a figure of major influence on the international music scene for over three decades. With early classic recordings like “Hurricane Hattie” “Dearest Beverley” “Many Rivers To Cross”, “Sitting In Limbo”, “Wonderful World, Beautiful People”, “Struggling Man”, “I Can See Clearly Now”, “Music Maker”, “House of Exile”, “Black Queen” etc, Jimmy Cliff won the hearts of reggae fans worldwide.

His hit “Vietnam”, when heard by Paul Simon, persuaded him to travel down to Kingston, Jamaica, to use the tune to record his hit “Mother and Child Reunion”.

With over 20 albums to his credit, Jimmy Cliff was among the first to bring reggae to a worldwide audience. Cliff has had enormous success in Britain, where “Wonderful World” reached number six. His film “The Harder They Come”, in which he sang many of his hits, also gave him more international recognition.

His 1983 collaboration with Kool & The Gang resulted in the Grammy-nominated album “Power and Glory”. He then worked hard to win the Grammy in 1985, wth “Cliff Hanger”. His latest album “Black Magic” features many great musicians, including Annie Lennox, Sting, Kool & the Gang, and Wyclef Jean.

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About Joel Savage

  • Johnbull Akenuwa

    His songs are greater than the greatest, sweeter than honey and more enduring than a million years. Roll on Jimmy and congratulations at last the pin heads in the rock n roll Hall has belatedly recognised your beauty, power and gory.

  • MUSILA JOHN, Kenya

    I,Love jimmy cliff’s -i can see clearly now, the sense, the meaning,the future,leaving+the past without quarrel,one has to suffer, pray to see it thro’. COMMENT,Currently the whole world is loosing pple who sing sense,who see the future clearly unless we all refocus this issue this world is gona suffer great on all fields, lets try to look back and imitate the greats. Alive
    or gone.end of quote . jan 2010



  • joel savage

    Hello Lars,
    Thanks for your interest in the article. I will send you the lyrics of “Born to win” very soon.

    From the writer

  • Lars

    Hi, anyone got a transscript of the lyrics to Jimmy Cliffs “Born to win”?
    We’re using the song as a team “cheer”, and would like to make a poster with the lyrics for inspiration.

    Thx Lars

  • I like his crossover pop stuff like “I Can See Clearly Now.”

    I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
    I can see all obstacles in my way
    Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
    It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
    Sun-Shiny day.
    I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
    All of the bad feelings have disappeared
    Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for
    It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
    Sun-Shiny day.

    Look all around, there’s nothin’ but blue skies
    Look straight ahead, nothin’ but blue skies

    I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
    I can see all obstacles in my way
    Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
    It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
    Sun-Shiny day

    That is all.

  • Austin Kaluba

    Jimmy Cliff is a towering force on the world music scene. He helped to sell reggae to the world long before people heard about artists like Bob Marley or Peter Tosh. He is a genius. I was lucky to meet the artist in person when he visited my country Zambia in 1999. The artist also combines his music talent with acting featuring in two acclaimed movies The Harder They Come and Club Paradise.

  • joel savage

    Thanks Peter, many even hold the view that he is greater than Bob Marley. As far back in the seventies, I can still remember songs of Jimmy Cliff like “Born to Win”, “House of Exile” and “Sitting in limbo” which were “music of hope” for the young hustlers of the ghetto fighting for survival.

  • Peter Akenuwa

    Jimmy Cliff

    If there is anyone to be praised for his versatility and productive ability in the reggae world is this great iconic reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff. Honest dedicated to the the world as against his peers who used the black man situation to climb to the top. Cliff was more comfortable with the entire world as his constituency, hits like “vietnam” “remake the world” “sufferin in the land” “sythetic world” e.t.c testify to this. And no one in any genre as been able to capture human suffering and hardship in song as the great Jimmy Cliff.

    Right from the beginning Cliff was out to conquored the world this he has done artistically with his own varied musical style. He is indeed the king of world music.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Joel, I love Jimmy Cliff and despite his success I think he is still underappreciated here in the U.S.. He should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Bob Marley (as should Toots). I reviewed The Harder They Come Deluxe Edition here.

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