Co­caine con­fes­sion turns con­cert en­core

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Mel Cooke Gleaner Writer

THIS YEAR, the date of Gre­gory Isaacs’ death (Oc­to­ber 26, 2010) was close to when he was awarded a posthu­mous Or­der of Dis­tinc­tion in the 2016 edi­tion of the annual cer­e­mony at King’s House, Old Hope Road, St Andrew.

Isaacs, the Rasta­far­ian who cut his locks (and sported a trade­mark hat), the rude boy with a taste for snazzy suits on stage, a man of few (or no) words in be­tween songs on stage but who made the women swoon with his lyrics, walked with an un­de­ni­able swag – aug­mented by a limp. The com­pos­ite of contradictions, which was the beloved Cool Ruler, was epit­o­mised by a co­caine-use con­fes­sion and com­mis­er­a­tion on record, which be­came a con­cert en­core stan­dard.

For when Gre­gory con­ceded to re­turn to the stage af­ter a typ­i­cally short set, which left fans de­mand­ing for more, the song that would usher him back on stage was Hard Drugs. He would stroll on singing, “dem still want more” to the roars from an au­di­ence that un­der­stood his history and al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated the wry hu­mour of how he turned the “dem” want­ing more in Hard Drugs to the “dem” want­ing more of his singing.

Hard Drugs came out on the al­bum All I Have is Love, Love Love. It looks at the in­sa­tiable de­sire of the co­caine user and the lengths he would go to get a fix: “They still want more... The more them get it A the more them want it Lord knows Some will even try to take his brother’s life Just to achieve it.” Then comes the cho­rus: “Talk­ing about hard drugs The more they get it they still want more.” Prime play­ers in the co­caine saga, the sell­ers and the buy­ers – make the sec­ond verse, where “man are like junkies all over town.”

EF­FEC­TIVE

It is a very short, ef­fec­tive song, with an up­beat melody and mu­sic, in con­trast to the topic of the track. And Isaacs’ more pub­li­cised en­coun­ters with the drug seemed to do noth­ing to di­min­ish his long-term pop­u­lar­ity with a loyal fan base. Per­haps that was be­cause he spoke about his ad­dic­tion, in­clud­ing an in­ter­view with The Gleaner’s Christo­pher Serju, which he re­vis­ited on Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 31, af­ter Isaacs’ death.

In the story, Isaacs said, “I used to fight against it (co­caine), too, but them times, I couldn’t af­ford it. I used to say them peo­ple a fool fi touch them things,” he said.

The story con­tin­ued: “Once the hits started pay­ing off, though, and he could af­ford to move with the ‘in’ crowd, the en­ter­tainer found him­self on the other side of the fence, re­call­ing his first foray into drug abuse as ‘very nice but danger­ous’.”

Isaacs had his re­grets, as Serju wrote: “In the 1988 in­ter­view, Gre­gory lamented the in­cal­cu­la­ble price he paid for the ad­dic­tion he de­scribed as danger­ous and costly – with free­dom, love, re­spect, money, friends, and pri­vacy lost to and through drugs.”

“It’s the great­est col­lege I’ve been to – the Co­caine High School – but also the most ex­pen­sive school fees that I have ever paid ... . I learnt a lot from it, both good and bad. I wouldn’t en­cour­age any­body to try it.”

“It’s the great­est col­lege I’ve been to – the Co­caine High School – but also the most ex­pen­sive school fees that I have ever paid ... .

Gre­gory Isaacs

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