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Story of the Song | Singing of the storm

Published:Sunday | October 2, 2016 | 10:00 AMMel Cooke
Gregory Isaacs

As Hurricane Matthew seems sure to affect Jamaica extensively between today and tomorrow, even if there is not a direct hit, 'breeze blow' tunes come to mind.

Of course, there is the famed Wild Gilbert by Lloyd Lovindeer, which is about the category five hurricane of September 1988. And Beenie Man deejayed about a woman who behaved like "51 storm" (attending to Hurricane Charlie). But there are other Jamaican songs which speak in general about storms and their movement without giving names.

One of them is Ziggy Marley's Still The Storm, from his Love is My Religion album of late 2007. The song makes the connection between storms and slavery, as Ziggy sings:

"With the world so loud, who's gonna hear when I cry?

In this fog of war for black gold,

One diamond sold, one life got stole.

Society built on slavery

For me it was not so long ago.

You may forget, but I still know."

It is a tempest which carries memories and history:

"Still the storms come

From the coast of West Africa.

Anger and rage, thunder and lightning

Spirits unrest, hey, they looking for justice.

Still the storms come

From the coast of West Africa;

flood of tears rise, for stories untold

A debt to be paid, hey, don't you know?"

And he captures the contrast between the slaves and master

"Their heroes are my enemies

For one man's profit is another man's loss

And I see their faces in stone and steel

With eyes so proud, oh I wish they could feel."

Finally, he warns of a turning of the tables, even though there is no retribution:

Eternity is not enough for me to forget

And my children's children, you will regret

For I warn you of a time when empires fall

And the lowly will be lifted. hey, rule them all,

But vengeance is no glory, hate is no pay

Truth is my call and peace is my way,

So I will endure through these hard times

While I am neglected and paid no mind."

The going will be rough but, as Gregory Isaacs sings in Storm, it must pass and there will be a time for recovery. The real test is holding on until the worst is past. He sings:

"Hang on, come rain, come shine!

We're in a storm,

But whenever there is a storm,

I know they've got to be a calm.

Lord! Lord! Hang on, come rain, come shine,

We'll soon see dawn

Cause although it's windy not warm,

Jah will guide us through the storm."