Whatever your opinion of him, Fidel Castro, who died yesterday, was undoubtedly one of the most significant figures of the Twentieth Century.
Not only did he somehow contrive from a very small personnel base to overthrow the government of Fulgencio Batista he managed to sustain his regime against the efforts to undermine it of a great power whose territory began only 103 miles away even when his backer, the Soviet Union, which that confrontation drew him to had fallen into the jaws of history.
The nationalisation of all US-owned businesses on the island naturally poisoned relations with it, as, no doubt, did the treatment of Batista suporters and the suppression of opposition voices. Castro did, though, institute free medical care for all and a well regarded education system.
The Cuba-US stand-off provided the biggest world crisis since the Second World War when USSR missiles were stationed on Cuban soil. Thankfully cool heads prevailed on the part of both the great powers to procure their removal.
Despite many increasingly lunatic plans to remove Castro or his influence (see first link above) he survived them all and was able to pass on his leadership peacefully.
Even if that was only to his brother he did not continue to cling to power beyond his capacity to wield it, unlike many.
Here are two opposing musical views.
Focus: Sugar Island
The Skatalites: Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz: 13/8/1926 – 25/11/2016. So it goes.
For some reason the chorus of this song has been running through my head for the past week or so. Originally performed by String Driven Thing (composed by Chris Adams of the group) and released as a single in 1973 it was a hit later in that decade for a different group which shall remain nameless.
The String Driven Thing version is better by miles in any case.
String Driven Thing: It’s a Game
Edited to add: this one didn’t go on as scheduled either. Looks like all the other ones I’ve scheduled won’t be appearing as planned.
As well as songs written by Prince Buster, Madness also covered this one which was composed and first performed by Labi Siffre, becoming his first UK hit after his previous release Pretty Little Girl (Make My Day) failed to make the charts.
Labi Siffre: It Must Be Love
For comparison purposes here is Madness’s version.
Released in the interregnum between Stills’s time in Crosby, Stills and Nash and Manassas before he took up with C, N (and Y) again, my elder brother took exception to the apparent incitement to free love in this song’s lyric and title. Myself I took it to mean be nice to the people you encounter.