Before They Were Stars: Alan Arkin Sings “Day-O” in “Calypso Heat Wave”

In last week’s Shouts From the Back Row podcast about our favourite movie musical numbers, we naturally mentioned the famous dinner scene in Beetlejuice where the characters all break out into a spontaneous dance number set to Harry Belafonte’s “Day-O” (a.k.a. “The Banana Boat Song”). Well, Harry Belafonte’s rendition of “Day-O” is not the only hit version of that song. In 1956, a folk band called The Tarriers recorded a much different rendition of “Day-O”… and one of the members of that band just happened to be 22-year old Alan Arkin! Arkin’s official film debut came when The Tarriers made a guest appearance in a 1957 musical called Calypso Heat Wave. You can see the band at the 0:42 mark of the trailer, and that’s Arkin singing and playing guitar right there in the middle. Here’s a clip featuring the band’s full version of “Day-O” and though you’d never recognize his voice behind the fake Jamaican accent, those are definitely Alan Arkin’s vocals on the song.

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