Wed | Dec 7, 2016

There's more than romance to the rain

Published:Sunday | October 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Bushman-File

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

Lovers walking in the wet, oblivious to or even relishing the raindrops. A couple snuggled up to the streak of rainwater down the windowpane, or the glorious sound of raindrops playing a pattern on a zinc roof.

Precipitation produces amorous moments in songs, with a few of them listed in this column recently, but there are other uses for showers of blessing in Jamaican popular music. Famously, one of them comes from Bob Marley in his song, Kaya, the title track from an album which was criticised heavily for being too 'soft' when it came out in a politically charged latter period of the 1970s, but has stood the test of time.

The song starts with the rain connection with marijuana smoking, Marley singing:

"Got to have Kaya now

Because the rain is falling"

After the statement of need, immediately comes the satisfaction of consumption, Marley putting himself higher than the showers in his delight:

"I feel so high

I even touch the sky

Above the falling rain

I feel so good in my neighbourhood

Here I come again"

Bushman sings extensively about rain in a track which encapsulates Jamaica's social divide, as well as the differing perspectives of those who need the moisture to sustain their farming livelihood and others to whom it is simply an inconvenience.

Flooded streets

With many drains clogged, inevitably, there are flooded streets when it rains. So, Bushman sings in the chorus of Downtown:

"Downtown no love when rain a fall

And uptown it flood out"

And while "the farmer man love when the rain fall every day/cause him crops a grow", Bushman points out that "the soldier man love when the sun shine every day/for him style a show." He even puts a figure on a then perennial problem when Downtown was released in about 2004, singing, "Eight million them spen' pon Hope Road and the flooding no end".

Close to the end of the first decade of the 2000s, Mavado found yet another use for precipitation in Fall Rain Fall, connecting the damp with protection from evil. He starts the introduction with:

"Yeah, de rain a fall

Mi sen a lightning message to bad min' people overall

See all de oil an de powda whe dem sprinkle a de stall."

Then he invokes the rain as a natural solution to the issue:

"Me say fall rain

Fall rain fall

Wash whe de oil an de powda whe dem sprinkle a de stall

Jah wet dem up, dem too bad min an corrupt."

Of course, in the early 2000s when dances were literally imitating real life, there was a move that would do wonders in drought times, if only it worked as well for the weather, and it did for building the party atmosphere then. It was simply named 'call dung the rain', and the move was an arm, fingers of the hand straight out, held high, then lowered in a straight line with the fingers trembling.

If only breaking an extended dry spell was that simple.

mel.cooke@gleanerjm.com