In Prospect Park, while reggae pulsated throughout the air, thousands of people seemed to know that our world is a “Wonderful World” and our fellow Brooklynites are “Beautiful People.”
Jimmy Cliff, who is 64 years old and is the only living musician to hold Jamaica’s highest honor for achievements in the arts and sciences, the Order of Merit, rocked the park’s bandshell with hits like “Save Our Planet Earth,” “Many Rivers to Cross,” “Rivers of Babylon” and “Harder They Come" for the first concert of the 2012 Celebrate Brooklyn! season.
Cliff played for over two hours, singing and grooving from the Prospect Park Bandshell, and moved Brooklyn’s soul through three encores.
And the crowd, who sang along through half a century of Cliff’s hits and covers, like “I can See Clearly” (John Nash) and even Rancid’s “Ruby SoHo,” were hypnotized.
“I came here to celebrate Brooklyn and see the living legend Jimmy Cliff play in Prospect Park,” Vin Francisco, from Bensonhurst, said during the concert last night. “He is mesmerizing.”
Others, like a Brooklyn Heights resident, said the night was close to magic.
“It’s about being in the park at night with all your friends. No matter who is playing, music here at night is magical in the park,” Alex Sher said, who was with his girlfriend.
But not only Brooklynites made the reggae bash, one man Patch caught up with came out from another state.
“I came all the way out from New Jersey because I wanted to hang with my friends while listening to the best living reggae master,” said Sean Hurley, whose parents grew up in Brooklyn. “And, of course, to celebrate my Brooklyn heritage.”
One of the most notable songs Cliff played was “Afghanistan,” which was his classic anti-war ballad, “Vietnam” just with a different chorus.
Hurley said that was his favorite tune of the evening.
“I liked how he appropriated ‘Vietnam’ to ‘Afghanistan.’ He tailored his classic hit to today,” Hurley said. “He’s become truly timeless.”
Celebrate Brooklyn! will host 31 more performances—with 25 free ones—in Prospect Park. To see the full Celebrate Brooklyn! schedule, click here.