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STORY OF THE SONG - 'Tour' based on real-life events

Published:Sunday | January 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Capleton ... Everything the song says is reality. That's why it's popular.

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

In 1995, Capleton's Tour, released on the African Star label, took off like the jet plane from which it borrowed the defining sound at its start. It was not just that the song was popular - which it undoubtedly was and still is - but it also defined a time of changing popular cultural identities and images in Jamaica.

Capleton tells The Sunday Gleaner that "everyting in Tour real". He was actually in Antigua or Trinidad and started writing the song there, finishing it up in Jamaica. But all the events it mentions happened in Jamaica and the changing appearances and attitudes he records in, "Caan tell di woman dem from de man/de whole a dem a dress inna di same pollution" and "mos a di yute dem stop dis Rastaman/Dem get fi know sey Rasta a di right tradition".

It was a time when unisex curl hairstyles were in vogue, there was a resurgence of Rastafari by the younger generation of dancehall artistes (Tour came out as a single well before Buju Banton's landmark 1995 Til Shiloh album) as well as the general youth population - and two of dancehall's potential leading lights were murdered.

Capleton deejays, come back a Jamaica everyting insecure/rich a get rich an' de poor a get poor/come back come hear sey Panhead skull bore/come back come hear sey Dirtsman skull bore.

He tells The Sunday Gleaner that while he knew Dirtsman (Papa San's brother among whose popular songs was Coming Hot This Year) as a fellow artiste, Panhead was someone with whom he went to school together and was from the same St Mary district.

"It was like a transition of my life in terms of the whole Rastafari aspect," Capleton said. "Everything the song say is reality. That's why it's popular."

Included are Pope John Paul's visit to Jamaica, rumoured intentions of a gay rights march and the dancehall animosities (an' di deejay dem nah teach people no more/a pure clashing an' fighting dem no unite no more) at a time when the perennial Beenie Man-Bounty Killer feud was in its early stages.

He remembers first performing Tour at the Denbigh showground in Clarendon on a concert where Ninja Man and Bounty Killer also performed.

"Mi run out. The whole place erupt, though it was reality," Capleton said. A very popular dub plate of the song for Stone Love Movements on the Corduroy rhythm also helped to propel Tour in the dancehall.

Sixteen years later, Tour is still a part of his live show, as Capleton says "anywhere mi go in the world people ask for it".

'It was like a transition of my life in terms of the whole Rastafari aspect ... Everything the song say is reality. That's why it's popular.'