Tiny Desk

Jimmy Cliff

Jimmy Cliff is a gentle soul — that's always come through in his songs and in the lilt in his voice. His most legendary songs appeared in the 1972 film The Harder They Come and its soundtrack; start with "Many Rivers to Cross" and you'll feel the heart, soul and wisdom of Jimmy Cliff.

Cliff starred in The Harder They Come as a reggae artist trying to make it in the music business, and the songs he sings — including "You Can Get It If You Really Want," "Sitting in Limbo" (both of which he performs in this Tiny Desk Concert) and "The Harder They Come" — never died. They're part of the soundtrack to a generation, but their reach extends beyond that. The Harder They Come put reggae on the map in the early '70s and became both an antidote and a guiding spirit to the punk and new wave music that would come a few years later.

For a musician, it must be hard to have your career hinge on your early music, but Jimmy Cliff always soldiered on. Still does. And his new songs are often as good as those early ones — he performs one, "I Got to Move On," here. But it is often circumstances, not songwriting abilities, that land a tune in the canon.

Jimmy Cliff was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year — and was, for many, the star performer there. In myriad ways, his aging voice sounds better than ever, having grown into those songs he wrote and sang nearly four decades ago. I felt honored to be a part of this Tiny Desk Concert, and pleased that we captured it for posterity.

Web Resources

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Tiny Desk Concert with Car Seat Headrest. Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Car Seat Headrest

Will Toledo is a wordsmith with a vision, as well as a DIY sound that's still finely crafted.

Tiny Desk Concert with EL VY. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Tiny Desk

EL VY

The National's Matt Berninger and Menomena's Brent Knopf team up in an intimate setting.

Tiny Desk Concert with The Arcs. Jessica Mowery/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jessica Mowery/NPR

Tiny Desk

The Arcs

It's our 500th show at the Tiny Desk, featuring The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and his new band.

Tiny Desk Concert with Wolf Alice. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Tiny Desk

Wolf Alice

The band's music can be noisy and primal, but at the Tiny Desk it showed a different side.

Tiny Desk Concert with River Whyless. Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

River Whyless

The North Carolina band fills its rootsy music with unexpected instruments and clever ideas.

Tiny Desk Concert with Benny Sings. Morgan Walker/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Morgan Walker/NPR

Tiny Desk

Benny Sings

The Dutch singer layers R&B, jazz and pop over hip-hop beats in his first-ever U.S. appearance.

Tiny Desk Concert with Natalie Merchant Jun Tsuboike /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike /NPR

Tiny Desk

Natalie Merchant

The singer-songwriter gives a warmhearted performance of two new songs, an old favorite and a hymn.

Tiny Desk Concert with Mariachi Flor De Toloache Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Mariachi Flor De Toloache

While on tour with The Arcs, the powerhouse mariachi band performs live in the NPR Music offices.

Tiny Desk Concert with Rapsody Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Rapsody

Watch the rapper perform three songs from Beauty And The Beast live at the NPR Music offices.

In January, Mucca Pazza set a Tiny Desk record by fitting 23 members onstage. Colin Marshall/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Colin Marshall/NPR

All Songs Considered

2015: Looking Back On A Year At The Tiny Desk

This year, NPR Music published 84 sessions from behind Bob Boilen's desk. Here are 15 highlights.

Back To Top

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor