I know I already did this feature this month but I wanted to get this one out while it was thinking of it and next month I’ll most likely be examining a Christmas song since next month is December. In 1982 the British band Musical Youth, a Reggae band formed in 1979 made up of a group of kids descended from Jamaican immigrants, released the song “Pass The Dutchie“. The song later became a hit in the US but they turned out to be a one-hit wonder in the colonies. At the very least I don’t remember any other songs from them.
Over the years the song has taken on a different meaning. While the surviving members of the band (at least one actually did pass away) continue to maintain that the song is about hunger (“dutchie” is Jamaican for a cooking pot) was actually about drugs. In fact so many US and UK listeners already thought dutchie was slag for drugs that it now is a slag term for drugs according to Wikipedia. However, when you actually pay attention to the song, it’s about food, or possibly music with food as an analog considering the opening dialog. So it’s not about drugs but food, right? Mostly, yes.
Why do I say mostly? Well, it turns out “Pass The Dutchie” is an altered cover of the song “Pass The Kutchie” by another Reggae band, The Mighty Diamonds, with a bit of U Brown‘s “Give Me The Music” tossed in for good measure. And the Mighty Diamonds song IS about drug use, and kutchie is a drug reference. I’ll link to the lyric video here because I’d rather not post that kind of crap to the Spotlight but you can check it out if you want. Personally I think the Musical Youth version has more life to it, but we’re talking about weed here. Unless you’re talking about medical marijuana (which I have concerns about) there isn’t much life to begin with, is there?
So why the change? Well, the five members who made up the group ranged from 11-16 and their manager though it best to change the theme of the song. (Said manager later screwed them over, which was partly responsible for the band breaking up for a while, two members reuniting after the aforementioned death of Patrick Waite from hereditary heart problems–seriously read up on this band, it’s a sad story.) They were just lucky that there was a word that sounded like kutchie. The line “how does it feel when you have no herb” (the song sounds like they were smoking while writing it really) was changed to “how does it feel when you have no food” and everything was fine.
By the way, I looked up “Jah” and it’s the Rastafarian term for God. Personally I think God would be more interested in fighting hunger than smoking weed and getting wasted, but we are talking about real high people, so who knows what they thing God is.
So that’s kind of odd. A song about drugs is turned into a song about food, and the druggie culture adopts the altered name to be about drugs. Guess they were really hungry for some reason. I can’t imagine why.