Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

Help support this site! Consider clicking an ad from time to time. Thanks!


Rivers of Babylon

Written and first recorded by The Melodians (JAM #1 1970).
Other hit version by Boney M. (US #30/UK #1/CAN #9/AUS #1/IRE #1/GER #1 1978).

From the wiki: “The Melodians’ original version of the song appeared in the soundtrack album of the 1972 movie The Harder They Come, making it internationally known. The lyrics are adapted from the texts of Psalm 137 and Psalm 19 in the Bible [KJV]: ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion… ‘

“[T]he song was initially banned by the Jamaican government because ‘its overt Rastafarian references (‘King Alpha’ and ‘O Fari’) were considered subversive and potentially inflammatory.’ Leslie Kong, the group’s producer, attacked the government for banning a song with words taken almost entirely from the Bible, stating that the psalms had been ‘sung by Jamaican Christians since time immemorial’. The government lifted the ban. After that it took only three weeks to become a number one hit in the Jamaican charts.

“‘Rivers of Babylon’ was covered in 1978 by Germany-based disco band Boney M., with a version that was released as a single. Boney M.’s release stayed at the #1 position in the UK for five weeks and was also the group’s only significant US chart entry, peaking at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.”

Boney M., “Rivers of Babylon” (1978):

Comments are closed.