Thu | Mar 22, 2018

Story of the Song | Rain for romance, pain

Published:Sunday | May 29, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Ernie Smith
Delroy Wilson
Marion Hall, formerly Lady Saw

Even as the cost to repair damage caused by last week's heavy showers, especially in St Thomas, continues, and the incalculable loss of a child's life is absorbed, there is no denying that rain is mood weather.

As expressed in Jamaican popular music, where the number of rain tunes reflects the prevalence of precipitation across the country, the atmosphere created by showers goes to one of two extremes. There is the romantic and the melancholy. For all are not glad for the raindrops, as Bushman sings in Downtown (although the polarities of position he points out are not the extremes of the sad and sexy, which sprinkle Jamaican popular music).

Bushman, a man from St Thomas who knows all about what rain can do, sings, "the farmer man love when the rain fall every day, for him crops a grow." On the other hand, in the urban space, rainfall is a nuisance, so he sings, "downtown no love when rain fall, uptown flood out."

On the romance side of the rain equation are songs like Ernie Smith's Pitta Patta, Banana Man's The Wickedest Time, and Lady Saw's It's Raining. Smith takes a combined approach to the weather, inside with his lady; Banana Man and Lady Saw look at the flush of a lady's desires, which are stimulated by the water.

In Pitta Patta, Smith starts with a question, which he immediately answers with his own experience:

"Have you ever been inside

On a rainy rainy night

Holding your baby tight?

Well I have."

Then in the chorus, he sums up the effect of the raindrops and the closeness it creates:

"Pitta patta, pitta patta

Coming down on my rooftop

Me and my baby holding tight

Doing all right

I hope it never stops."

Banana Man sings about the ladies wanting to start something when the raindrops begin. Communication technology is involved as "the wickedest time a when di rain start fall/Who nah sen' telegram, dem a make phone call/Say dem waan de hammer fi tear dung dem wall ..."

Marion 'Lady Saw' Hall, long before she heeded the calling of the Lord, deejayed about the rain's effect on her libido ("It's raining, my body's calling, I'm in need of my darling"), before exulting in the chorus about getting laid in the rain.

Still, all the dampness when the clouds release their weight is not happy. Since big men do not cry, at least in public, the raindrops are good camouflage for the weeping fellow in Delroy Wilson's Rain from the Skies:

"Ever since you went away

Every day, it's just a cloudy day

And I don't know if it's rain from the skies

Or tears from my eyes

Falling on my face

And rolling down my cheeks."