156 – Little Child – Faiyaz Jafri
Original version recorded 11–12 September and 3 October 1963
Ukulele version recorded January 6 2012
Faiyaz Jafri: Vocal
David Barratt Ukulele and everything else
Produced by David Barratt at The Abattoir Of Good Taste
Video Directed by Faiyaz Jafri
Written and credited to Lennon & McCartney
ABOUT THE SONG
Little Child is the 5th song from side one of "With The Beatles”.
Little Child is also the 5th song on side one of that album that happens to be in the key of “E”.
I may be wrong but I can’t think of any album that opens with five songs in the same key.
The recording of “Little Child” is odd also. Is there an earlier recording that has a solo panning from right to left and back again. I believe EMI/Abbey Road engineer Norman Smith was responsible for this as none of The Beatles were allowed to touch the hallowed mixing desk at this point in their career. Even on one of the most trite of their recordings The Beatles made a breakthrough.
McCartney himself is quoted as calling it filler, but from an anthropological standpoint “Little Child” is an interesting lens to view mid-20th Century popular culture though. It has often been criticized for being sexist or even pedophiliac because of lyrics like:
Little child, won’t you dance with me?
I’m so sad and lonely
Baby take a chance with me
If you want someone
To make you feel so fine
Then we’ll have some fun
When you’re mine, all mine
So come, come on, come on
In my opinion “Little Child” is not really about sex per-se but more about unconscious European attitudes to race.
John and Paul were aping a tradition in blues music of using names like – “baby”, “honey pie”, “daddy”, “mama” and “child” as a reference for a lover.
These were terms that came into use during “The Jazz Age”. No one in Britain would have used such terms before World War 2.
John and Paul were copying songs by Big Joe Turner, Big Mama Thornton, Little Richard.and dozens of others. It wasn’t consciously racist but it was appropriating another culture and putting into a completely different context.
The Beatles came from one corner of The Golden Triangle of 16th, 17th and 18th century slavery. Slaves were taken from the west coast of Africa to The Americas where they were forced to pick cotton in the southern states. That cotton was then then shipped back to the birthplace of The Beatles – Liverpool – where it was sold to mills in greater Lancashire to make clothing for the rest of Europe. The money from those sales was used in part to buy more slaves from Africa to pick more cotton… and so it goes.
But cotton and slaves and money were not the only things exchanged. Pretty soon European concepts of Christianity were taken up by the slaves, and in their churches by mixing European and African harmonies The Blues was born. Long after slavery was abolished the trade routes were still being used for consumer goods. Liverpool was still the major port for goods that came from The Americas and one of those goods were American “Race Records” – other wise known as The Blues. Those records featured artists like Screaming Jay Hawkins who John and Paul were deeply influenced by.
“Little Child” is part of that complicated conversation created by slavery.
This conversation continues today when white British “Yoof” talk in Yardy accents. When I listen to Dub-step artists like Stenchman sing/toast in faux Jamaican patois I am reminded of this record. There is a romanticism of racial oppression that European youth often embrace. I’m not sure why they do it but they do.
Faiyaz Jafri’s ukulele mixes the darker side of the lyric with his trademark vision of neo-archetypes. Obviously Kubrick’s “The Shining”, De Palma’s “Carrie” and “Sisters”, sex and violence and emotionally immature adolescents as well as the ambiguity of eroticism voiced by a patriarch, played a part in the creation of this film.
His film creates more questions than answers.
Why is the little girl in a padded cell?
Why is she so angry?
Are the events solely existing in her head?
Who’s blood is this?
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Faiyaz Jafri is a New York based artist and award winning filmmaker born and raised in rural Holland of Dutch and Pakistani decent. Jafri explores Jungian archetypes in the modern world. In addition he searches for neo-archetypes in mass media and global popular culture.
His work has an almost clinically engineered feel to it without becoming cold or soulless. It is this contrast between unnatural perfection and the fact that his work conveys a strong emotion that makes his work at times haunting but always strangely human.
His work has been exhibited in the form of film, print, video installations and life size sculptures in New York, Berlin, Taipei, Songzhuang, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, and Turin. More on Jafri and his work can be found on his site bam-b.com and his blog.
2012 Little Child
2011 Professional driver on a closed circuit.
2011 Hello Bambi
2010 Casulaties of Love
2010 Natural Plastic
2002 Helen of Troy
2001 Violence a Surrogate for Sex