Clinton Fearon was born in 1951 and grew up in the Jamaican hills of Sainte Catherine. He left with his mother to live in the big city, Kingston, at the age of fifteen and this affable man now lives in Seattle on the Pacific coast of the United States. During this time he was guitarist, bassist and singer with the iconic group The Gladiators. He left them in 1987 to start a solo career which included world tours with his group the Boogie Brown Band and ten albums. This Morning is his eleventh album, the third for Chapter Two / Wagram, after Heart and Soul, an acoustic album, in 2012, and Goodness in 2014.
The Brazilian illustrator Willian Santiago did the artwork for the sleeve which is colourful, figurative and geometric. Here is Mister Fearon commanding nature, with his goatee, cap and sun glasses, surrounded by banana trees, a parrot and a traveller’s palm. It sums him up perfectly: a being who respects “mother earth”, yet is demanding, a man who builds sounds, a reggae man who measures time straight down the line.
Clinton Fearon lives in Seattle, next to the ocean, because he feels “a good vibe” there, a good vibration, which suits his warm, rhythmic voice – it was from North America that Clinton Fearon got his soul and folk influences. The city where Jimi Hendrix was born is “excellent for creation”, says the singer songwriter who has swapped the sultry Caribbean heat for the fine rain of the northern United States, without any soul searching, because Jamaica “has always been a complicated country”.
The fresh Seattle weather brings a special relationship with nature, which is nurtured by the powerful presence of “Native Americans”, the Northwest Coast Indians. “They respect the land and so do I. I was born in the middle of the “bush”, where everyone depends on each other. When I arrived in Kingston, I used to say hello to everyone. People looked at me strangely. How could I belong to this city?». Through music and its beats, by starting my first group, The Brothers, by stalking the studios, by joining the warrior “Gladiators,” from the ghetto of Trenchtown. The kid from the mountains also became a “session man” at Studio One, founded by Clement Coxsone Dodd (1932-2004), where Bob Marley started out in 1969 and which reigned supreme in the golden age of reggae in the 1960s and 1970s. Jamaica gained independence in 1962. “The Jamaican dollar collapsed, kids had to live on the edge to survive”. And that’s when the money-changers from the temple descended, and made their mark on “rasta” Jamaica.
Rastafarianism is a religion, and Clinton Fearon has his own internal religion. The young Clinton remembers the rastas in the countryside, and a joint being offered to the schoolboy to show him the harmful power of “Babylon” – he used to go to the Adventist Church with his father. Clinton Fearon took the mystery of ska and reggae: the energy and the rhythms of Niyabinghi, one of the mansions of the Rastafarian movement which started in the 1930s and took the name of a central African princess who rebelled against colonialism and slavery in the 19th Century.
“I never preach. I look at my hand for example, and I wonder what life spirit makes it move. I believe in the virtues of parallel forces, the power in the blood. Then we can choose to be happy or not. Distancing yourself from nature is the best idea there is to make you sad. This Morning, like everything that I’ve done, talks about respect and love. Over time with the insights I’ve had, the perspective has changed, but it always comes back to the same thing.I live with my own spirituality,” says the man with the broad smile who makes friendly discussion so easy and smooth. Clinton Fearon has a recipe for feeling good: “Love what you do, do what you love”. Which he applies to his musicians, harmoniously. “A group where everyone is respected can be as strong as a lion. But if it goes wrong, it becomes a headless lion”, a raw and helpless power.
What else does This Morning tell us? That this urban life which is so “solitary” stops us interacting with each other and pushes us to accept “that control can be taken by one single person or one single group”, politicians, businessmen, ideologues, merchants, the powerful from all walks of life who tell us: “I have made you rich, I’ll look after you”. Clinton Fearon writes songs about this: No Justice, for example, and This Train Is Living. In thirteen tracks, he talks about his rejection of “those who claim to know more than we do and feel free to decide in our place,” he also talks about his attachment to his wife and the value of friends and companions in difficult times.
Recorded and mastered in Seattle, mixed at Studio Davout in Paris, the album is a balancing act. “I’m not a fast runner”, claims the artist-artisan, the long distance runner, who has left his mark on every curve of his musical drawing. Clinton Fearon plays everything (guitar, bass, percussion, voice), he added piano, saxophone, organ and marimba and made every effort to ensure “that we hear everything, together and separately, so that the lyrics and melodies that I’ve written sound just right”. It’s a question of unity.