#18 The Harder They Come

The stage show

#18 The Harder They Come – Jimmy Cliff

The Harder They Come was originally the  theme to Jimmy Cliff’s cult film about life in Jamaica (another reason for the world to thank Roger Corman). The soundtrack to the film is often credited with being the

Ivanhoe Martin a.k.a. Mr. Cliff a.k.a. James Chambers

catalyst for reggae to ‘cross-over’. If you get to see the movie, make sure you know which version you’re about to watch (the endings are significantly different). I’ve never seen the stage version but it seems to have been well received. His music may see fairly lightweight by today’s standards (or even to the dub 70’s reggae I was brought up on), but, above all, it’s good fun.

I myself was introduced to said music in a bar on Agir Galini, the year the Shah of Iran got his marching orders. I remember it well as I was on a Magic Bus trying to get to India; we had to turn back and ended up in Athens. The woman I was with (a Spanish woman called Begonia (and if you think English teeth are bad try peering into the mouth of a Spaniard!), who’d finally got fed up with being groped by the manager of the Notre Dame souvenir shop (the one in Paris not the football team) and head for the Orient. Faced with life in Athens, she decided we were going to Crete but after that it gets a bit hazy and all I remember for sure was waking up (back) in a Paris hotel room with a gigantic American who was obsessed with champagne, no luggage and a copy of the Master of Go … well it was the 70’s. Anyway, I still like Jimmy Cliff.


Well, they tell me of a pie up in the sky
Waiting for me when I die
But between the day you’re born and when you die
You know, they never seem to hear even your cry

So as sure as the sun will shine
I’m gonna get my share now what is mine
And then the harder they come
The harder they fall
One and all
The harder they come
The harder they fall
One and all

And the oppressors are trying to track me down
They’re trying to drive me underground
And they think that they have got the battle won
I say, forgive them Lord, they know not what they’ve done


And I keep on fighting for the things I want
Though I know that when you’re dead you can’t
But I’d rather be a free man in my grave
Than living as a puppet or a slave

Written by Jimmy Cliff

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