Pass The Dutchie: the story and the meaning of the lyrics

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Pass The Dutchie is a big hit from 1982, produced by the British-Jamaican Musical Youth. It was a huge success in Great Britan, even becoming the first musical video starring black people to go in heavy rotation on Mtv UK, few weeks before Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean. The song became popular again in 2022 because of its appearance in Stranger Things Season 4. In this article we will delve into the meaning of the lyrics and give also some useful anecdotes about its history.

You can find the official video of the song here below.

Watch this video on YouTube.
Pass The Dutchie, the official video

Pass The Dutchie: the meaning of the lyrics and the story

Pass The Dutchie is actually a cover. The band Musical Youth created it starting from two different songs, one of which is Pass The Kouchie by Mighty Diamonds. The Kouchie is the pot that holds marijuana in the Jamaican slang, while the Dutchie is just a generic cooking pot. Musical Youth decided to switch the workd just to make the song more politically correct.

The meaning of the song lyrics are however very clear: they refer to what people in Jamaica could say when they are together, smoking, and they ask each other to pass the pot.

In the song, the protagonist walks freely in a summer afternoon and, passing by a dreadlocks camp, hears the words coming from the group: “pass the dutchie upon the left hand side”. The spirit of the song is therefore the typical one of reggae music, that in a very lighthearted way invites everybody to enjoy life and be happy, eventually smoking to get more relaxed. The song describes a happy situation where a group of men smoke and have fun in their camp.

So I stopped to find out what was going on
‘Cause the spirit of Jah, you know he leads you on
There was a ring of dreads and a session was there in swing
You could feel the chills as I seen and heard them say

Pass the Dutchie ‘pon the left hand side
Pass the Dutchie ‘pon the left hand side

The intention of the song, and of reggae music in general, is to highlight the fact that living life in such a open and free way leads to happiness, but also allows you to produce good music.

You play it on the radio
And so me say, we a go hear it on the stereo
And so me know we a go play it on the disco
And so me say we a go hear it on the stereo

The success of this song was unexpected, especially because the original song by Mighty Diamonds wasn’t that successful. Pass The Dutchie was number one in UK music charts and reached top ten also in United States, selling over 5 million copies.

Read other popular song lyrics meaning on Auralcrave

The lyrics of the song

This generation
Rules the nation
With version
Music happens to be the food of love
Sounds to really make you rub and scrub

I say…

Pass the Dutchie ‘pon the left hand side
Pass the Dutchie ‘pon the left hand side
It a go bun (give me the music, make me jump and prance)
It a go dung, ya know? (Give me the music, make me rockin’ at the dance)

It was a cool and lonely breezy afternoon
(How does it feel when you’ve got no food?)
You could feel it ’cause it was the month of June
(How does it feel when you’ve got no food?)
So I left my gate and went out for a walk
(How does it feel when you’ve got no food?)
As I pass the dreadlocks camp, I heard them say
(How does it feel when you’ve got no food?)

Pass the Dutchie ‘pon the left hand side (I say)
Pass the Dutchie ‘pon the left hand side
It a go bun (give me the music, make me jump and prance)
It a go dung, ya know? (Give me the music, make me rockin’ at the dance)

So I stopped to find out what was going on
(How does it feel when you’ve got no food?)
‘Cause the spirit of Jah, you know he leads you on
(How does it feel when you’ve got no food?)
There was a ring of dreads and a session was there in swing
(How does it feel when you’ve got no food?)
You could feel the chills as I seen and heard them say
(How does it feel when you’ve got no food?)

Pass the Dutchie ‘pon the left hand side (I say)
Pass the Dutchie ‘pon the left hand side
It a go bun (give me the music, make me jump and prance)
It a go dung, ya know? (Give me the music, make me rockin’ at the dance)

Now me say listen to the drummer, me say listen to the bass
Give me a little music, make me wind up me waist
Me say listen to the drummer, me say listen to the bass
Give me a little music, make me wind up me waist, I say

Pass the Dutchie ‘pon the left hand side (I say)
Pass the Dutchie ‘pon the left hand side
It a go bun (give me the music, make me jump and prance)
It a go dung, ya know? (Give me the music, make me rockin’ at the dance)

You play it on the radio
And so me say, we a go hear it on the stereo (stereo)
And so me know we a go play it on the disco
And so me say we a go hear it on the stereo, woah

Pass the Dutchie ‘pon the left hand side (I say)
Pass the Dutchie ‘pon the left hand side
It a go bun (give me the music, make me jump and prance)
It a go dung, ya know? (Give me the music, make me rockin’ at the dance)

On the left hand side (I say)
On the left hand side (I say)
On the left hand side (idiot)
On the left hand side (feel it)
On the left hand side

And I say east, say west, say north and south
This is gonna really make us jump and shout
And I say east, say west, say north and south
This is gonna really make us jump and shout
I say