Australian singles chart:
Israelites entered the Kent singles charts on 3 May 1969 peaked at #5. The song was #52 on the Top 100 of 1969.
Desmond Dekker, Leslie Kong
Originally issued in Jamaica as Poor Me Israelites, it remains the best known Jamaican reggae hit to reach the United States Hot 100’s top 10. Dekker composed the song after overhearing an argument: “I was walking in the park, eating popcorn. I heard a couple arguing about money. She was saying she needs money and he was saying the work he was doing was not giving him enough. I related to those things and began to sing a little song: ‘You get up in the morning and you’re slaving for bread.’ By the time I got home, it was complete.”
The title has been the source of speculation, but most settle on the Rastafarian Movement’s association with the Twelve Tribes of Israel. In the 1960s, Jamaican Rastafarians were largely marginalised as “cultish” and ostracised from the larger society, including by the more conservative Christian church in Kingston. Destitute (“slaving for bread”) and unkempt (“Shirt them a-tear up, trousers is gone”), some Rastafarians were tempted to a life of crime (“I don’t want to end up like Bonnie and Clyde”). The song is a lament of this condition.
Read more: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israelites_(song)
This song is also on our Spotify playlist Bang a Gong – the 60s
After you’ve listened to this song, click HERE to pick another one!
New to Bang a Gong? Click HERE to learn more about us.