Song Lyric Sunday (9 February 2020) – Personal Pronouns

Last week, Jim (NewEpicAuthor, A Unique Title For Me) set a theme of the sound/word affectionate names for a loved one (my choice). This week, theme of personal pronouns.

Funny, soon as I I looked at Jim’s prompt today, my very first thought was not about a song, but about a post I wrote on this very blog, not long after I started, called I, Me, Mine. (The title for that post was actually taken directly from a Beatles song, however – I wonder whether anyone will choose it today?) The post? I’ll save you the trouble of reading the post – I was struck by how I thought everything revolved around me in the aftermath of the stroke. I’ve improved on that score bigtime, but I was struck by how many people just live their regular lives with that attitude. As if the world revolved around them.

Talking of stroke, I was lucky (maybe lucky is the wrong word?) because although it affected me physically, my mental capacity is still all there. In particular, I can still remember my childhood like it was yesterday. Strokes can trigger dementia, so I was lucky. And it is back to my early adulthood that I will go today, a tune from one of my top bands, called Aswad.

In fact, the song was first released in 1968, when I was a still crawling, and re-released under a different label a year later. Written by Fred Toots Hibbert and performed by Toots and the Maytals, the first time that I heard it was as a cover version by Aswad, in the mid-Eighties. I’m biased, but I think Aswad recorded the better version, so I will present it today.

The song was one of the first ska songs to be a hit outside f Jamaica, and refers to Toots’ time spent in prison for the heinous crime of possessing marijuana. You can judge from the lyrics whether Toots thought it was a fair cop. I present 54-46 Was My Number, but by Aswad.

Stick it up, mister!
Can you hear what I’m saying now, yeah
Get your hands in the air, sir!
And you will get no hurt, mister, no no no

I said yeah (I said yeah)
Listen what they say (listen what they say)
Can you hear me say, yeah? (yeah yeah)
Listen what they say (listen what they say)

Do you believe I would take such a thing with me
And give it to a police man?
I wouldn’t do that, oh no (ooh, ooh)
I wouldn’t do that (ooh, ooh)

And if I do that, I would say “Sir
Come on and put the charge on me”
I wouldn’t do that (ooh, ooh)
I wouldn’t do that (ooh, ooh)

I’m not a fool to hurt myself
So I was innocent of what they done to me
They were wrong (ooh, ooh), oh yeah
They were wrong (ooh, ooh)

You give it to me one time (huh)
You give it to me two times (huh-huh)
You give it to me three times (huh-huh-huh)
You give it to me four times (huh-huh-huh-huh)

54-46 was my number, was my number, man
Right now, someone else has that number
54-46 was my number, well
Right now, someone else has that number

And I said yeah (I said yeah)
Listen what they say (listen what they say)
Can you hear me say, yeah? (yeah yeah)
Listen what they say (listen what they say)
Oh, work could not control me now
Oh, no bars could not hold me now
They hold I down and they lock-a you way
They try to keep I for a year and a day
But through the powers of the Most High God
Got to turn me lose, I say

54-46 was my number, was my number, man
Right now, someone else has that number, well
54-46 was my number, was my number, man
Right now, someone else has that number, hey

Fred Hibbert, Toots and the Maytals

Incidentally, if you liked the sound, the vocalist is a guy called Brinsley Forde, who now performs solo. The other two band members still gig as Aswad but have not released any studio material for some time.


  1. Oh the heinous crime of possession of some herb. They were wrong and they’re still are! (totally my own opinion)
    I knew the song but in another version, with a more ‘rough’ sound from Toots and the Maytals. I think it’s a matter of taste or what version you come across first. I like yours too it’s more ska.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know that far from its reputation, Jamaican drug law used to be very strict. I don’t know it that’s still the case. I would allow any frugs to be legal, but I’d want to be satisfied first about any extra burden on public health systems. We need more research, everything seems to be anecdotal so far.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Weed is legal in the Netherlands, I don’t know if they have so many troubles with it.
        Drugs are a problem, especially the people who make it and sell it to anyone with money.
        I agree so much on the research, as for now everything seems to be one-sided.
        I’ve heard that mushroom, not the one you find in the store, can help with treatment resistent depression. I don’t know if they are provided somewhere yet. Some forms of street drugs are also proven to help with mental health conditions and are prescribes in a supervised condition of course.
        I mean to say, not all is bad bad.

        Liked by 1 person

        • We have a strange situation where weed isn’t legal, but nobody does anything about it, and it is possible to buy it anywhere (except for shops!) One of the plusses of legalisation would be to control quality. I’d legalise hard drugs too, subject again to medical research. It is certainly perverse at the moment that some drugs are legal and others not, it should be one or the other.
          I can see the drug debate going hand-in-hand with the debate about US-style medical insurance, where people’s premium would depend on their lifestyle choices. That wuld be dangerous ground, because some “choices” are actually not choices, e.g. pre-disposition to certain things.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Lobbying that is why some drugs get away with staying legal.
            I agree on the debate then with insurance, difficult ground to prove your predisposition.
            First they should listen to research about climate change, care for Mother Earth and then, when their mind is more sane, they could do something that is not too hinged on money.
            US is maybe a dream for some but the problems with health insurance, student loans it’s not that fun nor a dream.

            Liked by 2 people

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