‘Gone Till November,’ Wyclef Jean

The cover of Wyclef Jean's 1998 single, "Gone Till November."

The cover of Wyclef Jean’s 1998 single, “Gone Till November.”

Yesterday’s entry in the 350 Jersey Songs series was Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing),” from 1998. Earlier that year, though, her Fugees bandmate Wyclef Jean was the first member of the trio to break through on his own, with “Gone Till November.”

Like “Doo Wop (That Thing),” “Gone Till November” is a hybrid song — part pop, part hip-hop — but it’s very different in tone. “Doo Wop (That Thing)” conveyed a serious message with a playful wink; “Gone Till November” is a sad ballad. Hill sent a message out to “stop acting like boys and be men,” while Jean sings from the point of view of one of those men Hill would berate — a drug runner, leaving home on a long trip.

He doesn’t see any other option for himself (“I can’t work a 9 to 5,” he says, matter-of-factly) but argues that it’s all for the best. Think of all the money he’ll make, he tells the woman he’s singing to (“When I come back, you know the limit’s the sky”).

It’s an elegant, restrained song, recorded with the help of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and the video, below, is like a mini-movie, complete with a cameo by Bob Dylan at the 2:25 mark.

Jean was born in Haiti but his family later moved to Brooklyn and then Newark and East Orange. “Gone Till November” made the Top 10 and is the biggest single of his solo career, unless you count songs he was featured on — by Destiny’s Child (“No, No, No”), Santana (“Maria Maria”) and Shakira (“Hips Don’t Lie”).

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.


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