Raphaela
Mighty Sparrow Lyrics


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Down Venezuela
Is there ah met with Raphaela, oh yeah
Down Venezuela
Is there ah met with Raphaela
Ah try ah old trick on she
But she was too smart for me
When ah finish ah didn't want to pay
So she scramble on to me before ah get away, bawling out:

No, no, no, don't go amigo, usted tengo mucho cabez
Dame dinero ahora, yo no habla Inglés
Mama mia tengo revolver, papa mia mad, oh
Dame dinero, Sparrow
Or you don't go back to Trinidad

Well I start to tremble
When the crowd start to assemble
So then ah jump through the window
Is there ah bounce up with Pedro
"Qué pasa señor, why you jump through the window for?"
Pull out a razor, so ah run back inside again
The sister start up the same refrain:

No, no, no, don't go amigo, usted tengo mucho cabez
Dame dinero ahora, yo no habla Inglés
Mama mia tengo revolver, papa mia mad, oh
Dame dinero, Sparrow
Or you don't go back to Trinidad

Negro!
Where have you been?
Hey negro!

You can imagine
Meh belly boiling like a engine
But when ah watch at the crowd so
Ah say to me self no more Sparrow
But then I shouldn't comment
I was being treated like a President
They surround me with pliers, hammers and shears
And is just so they treat President Perez

No, no, no, no, amigo usted tengo mucho cabez
Dame dinero ahora, yo no habla Inglés
Mama mia tengo revolver, papa mia mad
Dame dinero, Sparrow
Or you don't go back to Trinidad, do you hear?

Hey negro!

No licks ain't pass yet
But ah swimming in cold sweat
Ah ain't know what to study
Ah say ah done dead already
At a certain time concentration stop
Ah think ah start to throw up
When ah wake up from the hospital it was no trick
Is a pelau meh girl cook that had me sick

But I still hear it:

No, no, no, no, amigo usted tengo mucho cabez
Dame dinero ahora, yo no habla Inglés
Mama mia tengo revolver, papa mia mad, oh
Dame dinero, Sparrow
Or you don't go back to Trinidad





Hey negro!

Overall Meaning

The Mighty Sparrow's song "Raphaela" tells the story of his encounter with a woman named Raphaela in Venezuela. Sparrow sets the scene in the first verse, describing his trip to Venezuela and the meeting with Raphaela. The second verse takes a darker turn as Sparrow tries to leave without paying and he is confronted by Raphaela and her sister, who demand money and threaten him with a gun. The tension builds in the third verse as Sparrow tries to escape but is surrounded by a crowd wielding weapons. The final verse reveals that Sparrow ended up in the hospital after eating Raphaela's pelau, and the chorus repeats the same demands for money and threat of violence.


At first listen, "Raphaela" may seem like a humorous tale of a hapless tourist getting into trouble, but there are deeper themes at play. Sparrow's lyrics touch on issues of power, corruption, and violence in a foreign land. Throughout the song, Sparrow is at the mercy of those in power - Raphaela, her sister, the crowd, and the hospital staff. He is forced to pay money he doesn't have and is threatened with violence if he doesn't comply. The chorus "Dame dinero, Sparrow" (Give me money, Sparrow) is a constant reminder of the imbalance of power that Sparrow faces as a foreigner in Venezuela.


The song's catchy melody and humorous lyrics have made it a favorite among calypso fans for decades. It has also been covered by other artists, including Lord Melody and Kitchener. In 1994, Sparrow won the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album for his album "The Rough Guide to Calypso and Soca." "Raphaela" is one of his most popular and enduring songs, showcasing both his wit and his social commentary.


Line by Line Meaning

Down Venezuela
The singer is in Venezuela


Is there ah met with Raphaela, oh yeah
The singer meets Raphaela


Ah try ah old trick on she
The singer tries to deceive Raphaela


But she was too smart for me
Raphaela outsmarts the singer


When ah finish ah didn't want to pay
The singer refused to pay after his plan failed


So she scramble on to me before ah get away, bawling out:
Raphaela catches up to the singer and angrily demands payment


No, no, no, don't go amigo, usted tengo mucho cabez
Raphaela insists that the singer pay her, using Spanish to insult his intelligence


Dame dinero ahora, yo no habla Inglés
Raphaela demands money, claiming not to speak English


Mama mia tengo revolver, papa mia mad, oh
Raphaela threatens the singer with a gun and mentions her angry parents


Dame dinero, Sparrow
Raphaela demands money from 'Sparrow', likely the singer's nickname


Or you don't go back to Trinidad
Raphaela threatens to harm the singer or prevent his return to Trinidad


Well I start to tremble
The singer gets scared


When the crowd start to assemble
People begin gathering around the singer and Raphaela


So then ah jump through the window
The singer escapes by jumping through a window


Is there ah bounce up with Pedro
The singer meets someone named Pedro


"Qué pasa señor, why you jump through the window for?"
Pedro questions the singer's actions in Spanish


Pull out a razor, so ah run back inside again
The singer sees a razor and runs back inside to avoid a confrontation


The sister start up the same refrain:
Raphaela's sister repeats the same demand for money from the singer


Negro!
Someone calls the singer 'Negro'


Where have you been?
The person asks the singer where he has been


You can imagine
The singer is thinking about what happened next


Meh belly boiling like a engine
The singer is nervous and anxious


But when ah watch at the crowd so
The singer observed the crowd of people


Ah say to me self no more Sparrow
The singer decides to stop using his nickname 'Sparrow'


But then I shouldn't comment
The singer is unsure if he made the right decision


I was being treated like a President
The crowd is treating the singer like a President


They surround me with pliers, hammers and shears
The crowd threatens the singer with tools


And is just so they treat President Perez
The crowd treated President Perez the same way


No licks ain't pass yet
The singer hasn't been physically beaten yet


But ah swimming in cold sweat
The singer is sweating and nervous


Ah ain't know what to study
The singer doesn't know what to do


Ah say ah done dead already
The singer thinks he is going to die


At a certain time concentration stop
The singer loses focus and becomes disoriented


Ah think ah start to throw up
The singer feels sick and nauseous


When ah wake up from the hospital it was no trick
The singer wakes up in the hospital, realizing it wasn't a joke


Is a pelau meh girl cook that had me sick
The singer got sick from eating a dish cooked by his girlfriend


Hey negro!
Someone calls the singer 'Negro'




Contributed by Samuel H. Suggest a correction in the comments below.
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