Tiny Desk

Jimmy Cliff

Jimmy Cliff: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128383652/128432529" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

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

Gabriel Garzon-Montano performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 3, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Gabriel Garzón-Montano

Gabriel Garzón-Montano spent three years writing and recording his beautiful, dense album Jardin -- but for his Tiny Desk visit, he stripped it all down to two elements, the piano and his voice.

Julia Jacklin performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 1, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Julia Jacklin

A restrained, whisper-soft Tiny Desk concert from Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin with songs taken from her debut album Don't Let The Kids Win.

Troker performs at Tiny Desk Concert on April 5, 2017 (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero /NPR

Tiny Desk

Troker

Mexico may not be known for its jazz, but the young lions of Troker are a promising hope to make the country and its capital city a destination.

Tim Darcy performs at Tiny Desk Concert on April 21, 2017 (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tim Darcy

Tim Darcy of Montreal band Ought brings his mysterious solo work, from the album Saturday Night, to the Tiny Desk. The record he says, was his chance to "get back to my roots, in my own voice."

Danilo Brito performs a Tiny Desk concert on April 10, 2017. (Ariel Zambelich/NPR) Ariel Zambelich/NPE hide caption

toggle caption Ariel Zambelich/NPE

Tiny Desk

Danilo Brito

Danilo Brito and his band brought their dextrous expression of choro music to the Tiny Desk, a long-established musical style that has its roots in the streets and backyards of Brito's native Brazil.

Aimee Mann performs at Tiny Desk Concert on Apr. 20, 2017 (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero /NPR

Tiny Desk

Aimee Mann

"This song is called 'You Never Loved Me' — it's another cheery, optimistic number," says Aimee Mann, introducing the second of four songs in this Tiny Desk Concert.

Peter Silberman performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Apr. 7, 2017. (Emily Bogle/NPR) Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Emily Bogle/NPR

Tiny Desk

Peter Silberman

A strange condition hushed the life of Peter Silberman, resulting in what may be the quietest Tiny Desk Concert ever.

Antonio Lizana performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Jan. 25, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Antonio Lizana

The traditions of flamenco and jazz are disparate, but in the hands of a few Spanish jazz musicians, these two worlds commingle and find common ground.

Chicano Batman performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Mar., 30, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Chicano Batman

Chicano Batman comes with a sound that perfectly captures dark lounges, quinceñera dances, car shows and backyard parties.

Back To Top