Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Story of the Song | Rain brings Kaya feeling

Published:Sunday | May 21, 2017 | 5:00 AMMel Cooke
Bushman
Bob Marley
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With rain on just about everyone's mind, when it does not end up in floods, it captures the artistic imagination in especially amorous ways. There are many images - lovers walking in the wet, oblivious to or even relishing the rain drops. 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.

But there are other uses for showers of blessings 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 period of the latter part of the 1970s but which 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.

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 rainfall

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

Jah wet dem up,

dem too badmin an corrupt."

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.