Brown Skin Girl
Harry Belafonte Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

Ev'rything to keep me from sleepin'
A lot of sailor boys they were leavin'
And everybody there were jumpin'
To hear the sailor boys in our chorus singin'

Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
I'm goin away, in a sailing boat
And if I don't come back
Stay home and mind baby Now de Americans made an invasion
We thought it was a help to the island
Until they left from here on vacation
They left de native boy home to mind their children

Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
I'm goin away, in a sailing boat
And if I don't come back
Stay home and mind baby

Now I tell you de story 'bout Millie
Well she made a nice blue-eyed baby
And dey say she fancy the mother
But the blue-eyed baby ain't know she father

Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
I'm goin away, in a sailing boat
And if I don't come back
Stay home and mind baby

Now de Americans all have their pleasure
While the music played to their leisure
Everybody there they were jumpin'
To hear the sailor boys in our chorus singin'

Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
I'm goin' away, in a sailing boat




And if I don't come back
Stay home and mind baby

Overall Meaning

The song "Brown Skin Girl" by Harry Belafonte is a tribute to the beauty and struggles of black women. The song tells the story of a sailor leaving his brown-skinned girl behind and pleading with her to stay home and look after their child if he doesn't return from his voyage. The song also references the American invasion of an island and the subsequent leaving of native boys behind to look after the children of the soldiers. The song seems to illustrate the pain of separation and the weight of responsibility that falls on black women when their men leave.


The song has a hauntingly beautiful melody and Belafonte's vocals are both soothing and powerful. The lyrics are easy to follow and the story told is universal. The song highlights the beauty of brown skin and the strength of the women who bear its color.


One interesting fact about the song is that it was originally recorded in 1956 as part of the "Calypso" album, which was the first album to sell over a million copies. Another fact is that the song was written by Lord Burgess, who also wrote the hit song "Jamaica Farewell", which was also included in the "Calypso" album. Additionally, the "Brown Skin Girl" melody is said to be based on a Trinidadian folk song called "Brown Skin Gal". Lastly, in 2019, Beyoncé released a song titled "Brown Skin Girl" which was inspired by Belafonte's version.


Chords (according to ultimate-guitar.com):
Verse: D - G - D - A7
Chorus: G - D - A7 - D


Line by Line Meaning

Ev'rything to keep me from sleepin'
My mind is troubled and I can't sleep


A lot of sailor boys they were leavin'
Many sailors are departing on their boats


And everybody there were jumpin'
Everyone is excited and energetic


To hear the sailor boys in our chorus singin'
The crowd is eager to listen to the sailors' songs


Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
Don't worry about me, take care of our child


I'm goin away, in a sailing boat
I'm leaving for a journey on a boat


And if I don't come back
In case I don't return


Stay home and mind baby
Take care of our child while I'm gone


Now de Americans made an invasion
The Americans came and invaded our land


We thought it was a help to the island
Initially we considered it as a beneficial act for our country


Until they left from here on vacation
But then they left without any care for us


They left de native boy home to mind their children
They left behind the native boy to take care of their children


Now I tell you de story 'bout Millie
Let me share with you the story of Millie


Well she made a nice blue-eyed baby
She had a beautiful baby with blue eyes


And dey say she fancy the mother
Rumors say that the baby's father is Millie's lover


But the blue-eyed baby ain't know she father
However, the baby is unaware of his/her father's identity


Now de Americans all have their pleasure
The Americans are all enjoying themselves


While the music played to their leisure
They are dancing to music according to their liking


I'm goin' away, in a sailing boat
I'm leaving on a boat soon


And if I don't come back
If I don't return


Stay home and mind baby
Take care of our child while I'm gone




Contributed by Kylie S. Suggest a correction in the comments below.
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Most interesting comment from YouTube:

@tasnimrifat5360

Ev'rything to keep me from sleepin'
A lot of sailor boys they were leavin'
And everybody there were jumpin'
To hear the sailor boys in our singin'

Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
I'm goin away, in a sailing boat
And if I don't come back
Stay home and mind baby

Now de Americans made an invasion
We thought it was a help to the island
Until they left from here on vacation
They left de native boy home to mind their children

Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
I'm goin away, in a sailing boat
And if I don't come back
Stay home and mind baby

Now I tell you de story 'bout Millie
Well she made a nice blue-eyed baby
And dey say she fancy the mother
But the blue-eyed baby ain't know she father

Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
I'm goin away, in a sailing boat
And if I don't come back
Stay home and mind baby

Now de Americans all have their pleasure
While the music played to their leisure
Everybody there they were jumpin'
To hear the sailor boys in our singin'

Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
Brown skin girl stay home and mind baby
I'm goin' away, in a sailing boat
And if I don't come back
Stay home and mind baby



All comments from YouTube:

@facebookviralclips3204

Anyone in 2022, listening this master piece ??

@aarasan2002

Sad to lose such a giant among us. The world is poorer today with his passing. Love his music

@rotimioguntoye998

Absolutely have no idea how this song popped up in my head right now...but loving it and the memories attached. Happy days

@lashellemmanuel6171

Same here

@michelerobinson2651

I heard it in a movie i saw when i was a kid it has whoopie Goldberg and NPH in it

@paschalnwosu1657

It was Grade 1. I hated music lessons...but this one memory of my teacher singing this is burned in my head forever!

@phoneAmobileNotary

That's because BIG BROTHER is truly watching!

@postatility9703

I just had the same experience.It came out of nowhere,as music does so often.Great memories!

2 More Replies...

@danielhama4558

I'm from Uganda and my kindergarten teacher used to sing a version of this song to us... I just thought of it and decided to do a search that brought me here... Indeed The world has grown much smaller since my kindergarten days

@vtorialyn

Man I remember this from when I was REAL young! God I love the fact you can find just about ANYTHING on Youtube!!

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