The soundtrack of The Harder They Come, also released in 1972, was an equally essential moment in this process of cultural diffusion and cross-fertilization. It included imperishable cuts like Toots and the Maytals' "Pressure Drop" and Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" and "You Can Get It If You Really Want" (which themselves have anthemic potential). But it was the title track as recorded by Cliff, the film's charismatic star, which best expressed the anger, yearning, and indomitable spirit of reggae music. It's a spirit that can be tapped every time the song is deployed for a progressive/emancipationist cause:
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
They never seem to hear even your cry.
So as sure as the sun will shine
I'm gonna get my share now of what's mine
And then the harder they come the harder they'll fall, one and all
Oh, the harder they come the harder they'll fall, one and all.
Well the officers are trying to keep me down
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.
|Jimmy Cliff in The Harder They Come (1972)|
Here's the original recording of "The Harder They Come," on the eponymous soundtrack album:
Here's Cliff's joyous rendering of the tune at the Marquee Club, London, in 2006:
Song available on The Harder They Come (soundtrack) (1972), track 6 (reprise, track 12).
Wikipedia stub for "The Harder They Come" (song).
Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (no. 350).
NPR documentary on the cultural impact of The Harder They Come.