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The Melodians — Rivers of Babylon
Album: The Harder They Come
Avg rating:
6.8

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1389









Released: 1972
Length: 4:05
Plays (last 30 days): 1
By the rivers of Babylon
Where he sat down
And there he wept
When he remembered Zion

'Cause the wicked carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
How can we sing King Alpha's song
In a strange land?

'Cause the wicked carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
How can we sing King Alpha's song
In a strange land?

Sing it out loud
Sing a song of freedom, brother
Sing a song of freedom, sister

So, let the words of our mouth
And the meditation of our heart
Be acceptable in Thy sight
Oh, Fari

So, let the words of our mouth
And the meditation of our heart
Be acceptable in Thy sight
Oh, Fari

We got to sing it together
Everyone
La la la la la

By the rivers of Babylon
Where he sat down
And there he wept
When he remembered Zion

'Cause the wicked carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
How can we sing King Alpha's song
In a strange land?

'Cause the wicked carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
How can we sing King Alpha's song
In a strange land?
Comments (164)add comment
 NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
rpdevotee wrote:
Hey Bill...
You've got the wrong image wit this song.  It shows Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come".
First time I've seen this.
Great song, btw!
 
um, no he hasn't.
 

ah.. I sit corrected.
 sandymcp wrote:


Good grief... Germans claiming they wrote Psalm 137 is beyond belief - thus nonsense. THE song is almost a verbatim copy of the King James translation        What on earth were you smoking when you wrote this?  Neither Melodians nor Germans can claim authorship of  these timeless lyrics.
 Whether it is beyond belief or not, both the Melodians and Farian claimed to have written this song, or in the case of the Melodians having adapted the lyrics from the King James translation of the bible psalm to music. Farian did not credit the Melodians although he used bascially the same music as did the Melodians. From my understanding writing a song involves both the creation of lyrics (in this case the adaptation of existing lyrics) and a musical form (harmony, melody ...) for presentation. While Psalms seemed to have orignated as "words accompanying music" I don't believe that the melody, rhythmn etc. used when this psalm originally was written nor when it was translated for the King James bible where set to the music written by the Melodians.

 rotekz wrote:
I grew up with the Boney M version but love this too.
 
Me too!  and their Christmas album was popular in our house too!  :)  123K
everytime I hear this song... I long for some Boney M.
123K
 JHZ wrote:
Initially the German producer of the Boney-M version, Frank Farian had not credited the two Melodians who worte this song - only added them to the credits (and presumably only then accepted that they would at least get paid for Boney M butchering their song) when they protested. Should have been a sign. Farian later on "produced" Milli Vanilli ...
 

Good grief... Germans claiming they wrote Psalm 137 is beyond belief - thus nonsense. THE song is almost a verbatim copy of the King James translation        What on earth were you smoking when you wrote this?  Neither Melodians nor Germans can claim authorship of  these timeless lyrics.
Such a cool vibe!! 
iCONIC!
Rastafari
Just coincidentally happened to be watching Usain Bolt videos when this came on :)
How dry I am?  
Are there any even earlier versions?
Initially the German producer of the Boney-M version, Frank Farian had not credited the two Melodians who worte this song - only added them to the credits (and presumably only then accepted that they would at least get paid for Boney M butchering their song) when they protested. Should have been a sign. Farian later on "produced" Milli Vanilli ...
I still hear "how can we sing an aardvark song in Australia" and that is how I will continue to sing it when I sing along! {#Propeller}


re: not hearing the other version, I was born in '77 and was pretty content to listen to my folks' choice of classic rock stations until my late teens.
 ziggytrix wrote:
I just checked out this Boney M version you guys are talking about.

It's horrible!!!

 
  I'm surprised you hadn't heard that version before; it seemed unavoidable in the late '70s and early '80s.
Very nice {#Dancingbanana_2}
 4176 wrote:{#Wink}

My oh my, this really *is* the original version. This song is so tied to Boney M it's almost unthinkable it is not theirs. I like both versions.

Also this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsqSNIR5DsU (not sure if it even is a (loose) cover or a different song.... seems to be the latter though)



 

rpdevotee wrote:
Hey Bill...
You've got the wrong image wit this song.  It shows Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come".
First time I've seen this.
Great song, btw!
 
um, no he hasn't.
Hey Bill...
You've got the wrong image wit this song.  It shows Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come".
First time I've seen this.
Great song, btw!
Beautiful song.  
this is terrible

My oh my, this really *is* the original version. This song is so tied to Boney M it's almost unthinkable it is not theirs. I like both versions.

Also this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsqSNIR5DsU (not sure if it even is a (loose) cover or a different song.... seems to be the latter though)


 ziggytrix wrote:
I just checked out this Boney M version you guys are talking about.

It's horrible!!!

 
Try watching them on video.  Hilarious.
I just checked out this Boney M version you guys are talking about.

It's horrible!!!
 Rockstable wrote:
This version is much better than Boney M's. I almost like the song now. I like this reggae version of it.

 
it's way better and I love it {#Daisy}
Turning this one waaaaaaaaaay up today. Sing along time!
 thewiseking wrote:
א  עַל נַהֲרוֹת, בָּבֶל—שָׁם יָשַׁבְנוּ, גַּם-בָּכִינוּ:    בְּזָכְרֵנוּ, אֶת-צִיּוֹן.1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

 
there is your source
The lyrics are adapted from the Psalms 19 and 137.  It's a great track.

mread wrote:

I can't find anything to back this up.  It's apparently more about Black liberation in the context of the Rastafarian movement, not the context of slavery.  Related, yes.  But anyway, the appeal is broader and resonates with anyone who longs for a former time/place of peace and comfort.  Great song.  8.

 


 Proclivities wrote:

This is the original version, not a cover.

 
Thank God for the best cover version. ;-)

All those years and i never knew it was a cover.  {#Cheesygrin}
 SeriousLee wrote:
Ain't no cover version that does justice to this song. Especially not a damn reggae version!

 
This is the original version, not a cover.
Ain't no cover version that does justice to this song. Especially not a damn reggae version!
A classic.
It's good wet Saturday afternoon music. It will also suit late night music. Although I was relieved when it was over and then they played (Are You) The One I've Been Waiting For by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
This version is much better than Boney M's. I almost like the song now. I like this reggae version of it.
 bachbeet wrote:
It may be taken from the Bible but it's about the slaves taken from Africa to America.

 
I can't find anything to back this up.  It's apparently more about Black liberation in the context of the Rastafarian movement, not the context of slavery.  Related, yes.  But anyway, the appeal is broader and resonates with anyone who longs for a former time/place of peace and comfort.  Great song.  8.
 rotekz wrote:
I grew up with the Boney M version but love this too.

 
Boney M, oh sweet bird of youth. 
א  עַל נַהֲרוֹת, בָּבֶל—שָׁם יָשַׁבְנוּ, גַּם-בָּכִינוּ:    בְּזָכְרֵנוּ, אֶת-צִיּוֹן.1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
 hencini wrote:
If what Casey Kasem (sp?) told me in the mid 80s is still correct, these are the oldest lyrics of any pop song ever recorded.  And that's (part of) what makes RP awesome.  : )

 
~ 1015 BC, if anyone has/will beat that, they'll probably be in a Mandopop song.
 onelittlemoose wrote:

I'd never heard it before either. Turns out it is "original."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rivers_of_Babylon
"Rivers of Babylon" is a rastafarian song written and recorded by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of the Jamaican reggae group The Melodians in 1970. The lyrics are adapted from the texts of Psalms 19 and 137 in the Bible. ...

 
Could have sworn it was a traditional (and therefore anonymous) folk song. Thank you.
*THIS*, not that other version that sometimes plays on here.
I love them harmonies raggae style ~ very cool.. {#Music}
I think I bought this soundtrack on vinyl after seeing the film almost 40 years ago.  Still play it.
Is this the version after having 10 joints?
 Bleyfusz wrote:

Original? Are you kiddin'?

 
I'd never heard it before either. Turns out it is "original."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rivers_of_Babylon
"Rivers of Babylon" is a rastafarian song written and recorded by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of the Jamaican reggae group The Melodians in 1970. The lyrics are adapted from the texts of Psalms 19 and 137 in the Bible. ...
I grew up with the Boney M version but love this too.
Please stop dissin on Boney M
Hands up!  Don't shoot!!
 ziakut wrote:
Reggae has a bounce and lift to it that is appealing. Unfortunately this type of music has the staying power of a wet match. Every reggae tune should never exceed :48 seconds. Well...ok :57 seconds.

 
My thoughts entirely.
 unclehud wrote:
"Nice way to wake up in the Kingdom this morning," he said, as he posted via iPhone and smiled.  "I's gonna be a good day."
 
way cool brotha
Boney M. rulez!
 tomka wrote:
cool, never heard the original before

 
Original? Are you kiddin'?
 stevendejong wrote:

(edit) when you said "everything", did you mean an "everything" that includes commercial rap, hiphop, RnB, urban, or whatever that garbage is called nowadays? No? Thought so ;-)

... I sometimes fear I am a musical racist. Then, I quickly play some Youssou N'Dour :-) 

 
People accuse me of being a musical racist, but I do like the Beastie Boys!

{#Nyah}
Reggae has a bounce and lift to it that is appealing. Unfortunately this type of music has the staying power of a wet match. Every reggae tune should never exceed :48 seconds. Well...ok :57 seconds.

Delightful rendition, never did like the Boney M version


If what Casey Kasem (sp?) told me in the mid 80s is still correct, these are the oldest lyrics of any pop song ever recorded.  And that's (part of) what makes RP awesome.  : )
"Nice way to wake up in the Kingdom this morning," he said, as he posted via iPhone and smiled.  "I's gonna be a good day."
"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD..." is Psalm 19:14 in the Bible.
!00% in agreement with below...in fact going to join in...cos I can and nobody can see me{#Curtain}{#Bananajumprope}{#Bananajumprope}{#Bananajumprope}{#Bananajumprope}{#Bananajumprope}
{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}{#Dancingbanana}
I'm singing out loud! Perfect song for a sunny Oregon Friday!
Hmm...this song is perfectly in synch with me, who just quit a job I can't stand.
Help me, I can't stop bobbing my head.
 
I really apreciate hearing the original!
 And even though, I obviously have the Boney M version engraved in my brain, this one has genuine musical qualities of its own.
P.S. My 2 cents on reggae as a genre: I'm sure others have stated the same: I'm not excited by reggae... but I worship Marley.
 fuzzy wrote:
I wish they'd carry the Boney M. version. {#Sad}
 
I wish they'd carry neither of them :-)
 Isobel wrote:
Why do I hate reggae so much? I love every other sort of music; African, Brazilian, rock, folk, country, blues, well, everything. But reggae, for some reason, makes me want to pull my hair out. I realize this makes me a freak. I also hate football. And I live in Alabama. I probably need help.
 
I'm geographically a bit further from Jamaica, but I share with you an irrational irritation when it comes to reggae. A rationalization. I think reggae is a truly boring, overly self-similar, sluggish genre.

Then again, when you said "everything", did you mean an "everything" that includes commercial rap, hiphop, RnB, urban, or whatever that garbage is called nowadays? No? Thought so ;-)

... I sometimes fear I am a musical racist. Then, I quickly play some Youssou N'Dour :-) 
Why do I hate reggae so much? I love every other sort of music; African, Brazilian, rock, folk, country, blues, well, everything. But reggae, for some reason, makes me want to pull my hair out. I realize this makes me a freak. I also hate football. And I live in Alabama. I probably need help.
 bachbeet wrote:
It may be taken from the Bible but it's about the slaves taken from Africa to America.
 

 Luthien wrote:

and the Caribbean and Latin America (esp since this is is a Jamaican, not American group...).

 
Geographically, Jamaica and the Caribbean are within North America.  This is the best version of this tune - to me, that is.
Me too!  Reminds me of growing up in the islands, I think my parents listened to the LP daily!

fuzzy wrote:
I wish they'd carry the Boney M. version. {#Sad}
 


singing aardvark song in Australia?
 bachbeet wrote:
It may be taken from the Bible but it's about the slaves taken from Africa to America.
 
and the Caribbean and Latin America (esp since this is is a Jamaican, not American group...).

I love this! I live across the street from the lead singer's widow. Great people. Great island. Great music.
 fredriley wrote:

I'm probably being a philistine here, but I'll take the Boney M cover over this every day of the week...
 
Great song, and same for me - the Boney M cover gets the edge.

ONE LOVE EVERYONE!


I remember as a kid in the early '80s listening to Casey Kasem saying that these were the oldest song lyrics ever recorded in pop music.  Not sure if that record still stands, but it seems that it would be tough to top... 

We just introduced this album to our 6 and 8 yr old kids a few days ago on a car trip, and when we got home we had to google the lyrics.  I always throught "strange land" was "Australia."


 tutakea wrote:
it´s not even funny, it´s just plain crap. . . minus 10, if this were available
 
Sigh. Decades later, the crack babies have had babies.

It may be taken from the Bible but it's about the slaves taken from Africa to America.
 shoes wrote:
it's not supposed to be funny.  
it's about being an exile, which must be an awful experience, and sadly an experience that many people live through today.  Timeless song.
 
Amen.

Talking of Boney M (earlier) the male singer died recently...sad 
 tutakea wrote:
it´s not even funny, it´s just plain crap... minus 10, if this were available
 
Oh dear - what a pity - it's such a beautiful lyric - taken from the Bible
 tutakea wrote:
it´s not even funny, it´s just plain crap... minus 10, if this were available
 
it's not supposed to be funny.  
it's about being an exile, which must be an awful experience, and sadly an experience that many people live through today.  Timeless song.
 
 fast_eddie wrote:
I always hate being this guy, but I like the Sublime cover much better
 
jesus, don't be that guy then
I always hate being this guy, but I like the Sublime cover much better
 tutakea wrote:
it´s not even funny, it´s just plain crap... minus 10, if this were available
 
plus 20 here, so we balance to 10 apiece, as it should be

wtf man
Well then, everyone has their own opinion and mine is: this is a SOLID 9!
it´s not even funny, it´s just plain crap... minus 10, if this were available
 spindrift wrote:
I like this.{#Sunny}
 
Me too - some very moving biblical lyrics!
 EssexTex wrote:
Wow sooooo much better than the Boner M version.
 
I'm probably being a philistine here, but I'll take the Boney M cover over this every day of the week. And is that a 70s album cover par excellence, or what?


I like this.{#Sunny}
cool, never heard the original before
I wouldn't want to sit down anywhere near the reavers of Babylon...
 RobK wrote:
Jeez, how many people have recorded a version of this song?  I've heard a bunch without even trying.  I like Steve Earle's version a lot.
 
Anyone know who did the Spanish - Banda? version of this?  I heard it a few times on the radio quite a few years back but never picked up on the artist.  Catchy.

Okay, I know when I'm beat. This is melodic, rhythmic, intricate, beautiful and passionate.
 romeotuma wrote:


"Rivers Of Babylon" is a song written and recorded by The Melodians in 1972... it is based on the Biblical hymn Psalm 137, a hymn expressing the yearnings of the Jewish people in exile following the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 586 BC... the rivers of Babylon are the Euphrates river, its tributaries, and the Chebar river... the song also has words from Psalm 19:14...

 

Thanks, I was getting ready to ask who wrote this song originally, now I don't have to! I actually like the other version better though.
 marko86 wrote:
Definitely in the top 10 of my favorite albums. There is reggae beyond Marley.
 
AGREED!!!
Definitely in the top 10 of my favorite albums. There is reggae beyond Marley.
Are you guys tapping my ipod again??
Wow sooooo much better than the Boner M version.
YEAH!!!!!!!{#Dancingbanana}
Thank you for the background information, Romeo.
Thanks for this.  My mama passed away this morning—I needed to hear something like this.  And now Al Green!  RP, you have given me a lift this gloomy afternoon in Minnesota.


"Rivers Of Babylon" is a song written and recorded by The Melodians in 1972... it is based on the Biblical hymn Psalm 137, a hymn expressing the yearnings of the Jewish people in exile following the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 586 BC... the rivers of Babylon are the Euphrates river, its tributaries, and the Chebar river... the song also has words from Psalm 19:14...

Psalm 137

An Experience of the Captivity.
1 By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
2 Upon the willows in the midst of it
We hung our harps.
3 For there our captors demanded of us songs,
And our tormentors mirth, saying,
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion."
4 How can we sing the LORD'S song
In a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
May my right hand forget her skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
If I do not remember you,
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.
7 Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, "Raze it, raze it
To its very foundation."
8 O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one,
How blessed will be the one who repays you
With the recompense with which you have repaid us.
9 How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
Against the rock.


Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.


 sdn wrote:
Are there any reggae songs that don't mention Babylon, Zion, Jah, The Man Who's Keeping Us Down, or ganja?

 
No, there are not.  And there will never be.

End of subject; end of conversation. End of the End.

End.

Iree


 RobK wrote:

Are there any Christian gospel songs that don't mention Jesus, the Lord, heaven, salvation/savior/saving....? 

 
No, there are not.  And there will never be.

End of subject; end of conversation. End of the End.

End.

Iree

 jools wrote:


There's always Bob's version.  And perhaps I shouldn't mention Boney M...
 
I REALLY like Weird Al Yanovich's version ...

 arsenault wrote:
this whole album is classic.
not a dud in the lot.
 
Ditto!  Here's hoping RP soon adds the other four songs from this album that are not already on their playlist.  I'd especially enjoy hearing 'Sweet & Dandy' with Toots & The Maytals!  {#Good-vibes}


this whole album is classic.
not a dud in the lot.
whenever I hear this song I see this man doing his weird dances

boney m

 RobK wrote:

Are there any Christian gospel songs that don't mention Jesus, the Lord, heaven, salvation/savior/saving....? 

 
I would suspect that the underlying tone of all that you are noting is something on the order of:

On the shores of Jamaica-mon
I sit wit' out no' job
I sit wit' no money
The waves wash de' shore
and I wait for de' boat to come to carry me away
to the shores o' milk and honey
'cause life on de Jamaica-mon
Is jus' so bad I can' stand dit'

I'd be depressed too and waiting for the sky chariot to take me away ..... as long as it's not my neighborhood.

 sdn wrote:
Are there any reggae songs that don't mention Babylon, Zion, Jah, The Man Who's Keeping Us Down, or ganja?


 
Are there any Christian gospel songs that don't mention Jesus, the Lord, heaven, salvation/savior/saving....? 

Jeez, how many people have recorded a version of this song?  I've heard a bunch without even trying.  I like Steve Earle's version a lot.
 aragon wrote:
Good version. I guess this is the original by what I rapidly read here. But wondering when Bill will give Peter Tosh a chance.

 

There's always Bob's version.  And perhaps I shouldn't mention Boney M...
cc_rider wrote:
Probably not. I'm okay with that.
DITTO!
cc_rider wrote:
Probably not. I'm okay with that.
me too, seems like it hasn't been heard yet
Great tune - this version anyway!!!
sdn wrote:
Are there any reggae songs that don't mention Babylon, Zion, Jah, The Man Who's Keeping Us Down, or ganja? :yawn:
Probably not. I'm okay with that. edit: Reggae is sort of like 'Jamaican Gospel', so it is heavy on spiritual themes.
Are there any reggae songs that don't mention Babylon, Zion, Jah, The Man Who's Keeping Us Down, or ganja? :yawn:
Good version. I guess this is the original by what I rapidly read here. But wondering when Bill will give Peter Tosh a chance.
jah_blessed wrote:
Me too. That was the only version I knew at the time. It's not spectacularly bad, actually, but this is the real thing.
Yeah!! This was the song that made them stars. I sung their songs so much as a kid that I know all of the lyrics by heart.
Stewed_Mulligan wrote:
probably one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time
Me too - but the movie, not so much.
Still the best version, but Steve Earle's is great too!
Ahhhhhhhhhh...bliss :cowboy:
Love it - but can we have Bob's version too one day?