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Pass The Dutchie by Musical Youth

Album: The Youth Of TodayReleased: 1982Charted:
10
1
  • A "Dutchie" is a Jamaican cooking pot, and while there's not much reason to pass one around, it was an acceptable substitute for the original lyric: "Pass The Kutchie," Kutchie being Jamaican slang for a pot that holds marijuana. "Pass The Kutchie" was a song that came out earlier in 1982 by the Reggae group The Mighty Diamonds, which was adapted by Musical Youth, or at least their handlers - the five boys in the group were between the ages of 11 and 16 years old at the time, and their manager suggested they record the song with the modified lyric.

    The Mighty Diamonds "Pass The Kutchie" had a heavy, slow beat and got very little airplay, but Musical Youth's take on the song was an instant hit in the UK, where it sold 100,000 copies the first day it was released and made #1 in September, 1982. The band members were of Jamaican descent and lived in the Birmingham area of England. The group was formed by Freddie Waite, who had been in a Reggae band in Jamaica. Waite put his two sons, Patrick and Junior, in the band with two of their classmates, Kevin and Michael Grant, and recorded a single on their own called "Political," which got the attention of the BBC DJ John Peel, who played it on his show. This led to a deal with MCA Records, who convinced Waite to replace himself with a youngster: 14-year-old Dennis Seaton. The group, now entirely under age, was seasoned for about 6 months before their The Youth Of Today album was released and "Pass The Dutchie," the first single, became a huge hit.
  • Musical Youth became the first black act to get regular rotation on MTV when "Pass The Dutchie" was added to their playlist, preceding Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" video by a few weeks. The MTV airplay helped break the song in the United States, and it entered the Top 40 on January 15, 1983, reaching its peak position of #1 on February 26.

    The video was directed by Don Letts, a black filmmaker from England who would later work with The Clash, directing their "Rock the Casbah" clip. Letts was aware of the color barrier on MTV and went out of his way to make sure the kids appeared as non-threatening as possible in the video. The network flatly rejected Rick James, but they were OK with little kids singing in British accents.
  • Musical Youth had genuine talent and played their own instruments, but they suffered from poor and/or corrupt management, and they quickly floundered. They had more success in the UK, with hits "Youth Today" and "Never Gonna Give You Up," but in 1985 they were dropped from their label MCA Records and replaced by New Edition as the hot boy band. When the band fell apart, some of the group members struggled; Patrick Waite got involved with drugs and died in 1993 at age 24. His brother Junior Waite was later institutionalized, and Kelvin Grant went into seclusion.
  • This was used in the 2000 movie The Wedding Singer. When remaining band members didn't get the royalties they expected, they sued their former law firm, which they claimed failed to protect the copyright to the song. This lawsuit was rejected in British court on grounds that they didn't write the song and thus weren't entitled to any of the publishing rights, but the group later sued their old record company MCA, and reached a settlement for performance royalties they were denied. These legal actions reunited band members Michael Grant and Dennis Seaton, who began performing again, mostly on '80s nostalgia shows.
  • The lyrics are really a faux pas in etiquette. When passing a cooking pot (or anything else on the table), you pass it to your right, not your left. You can pass to your immediate left only if the item requested is closest to you. (thanks, Patrick - Tallapoosa, GA)
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Comments: 38

Evil earworm's been in my head for 31 years now!
A classic one hit wonder!

Rob, from NJ, read carefully -- it was originally "pass the KUTCHIE" which is a spliff! But, for American radio, they switched it to DUTCHIE; THINK, mon, nobody passes a cooking pot 'pon the left-hand side" over & over again! Why DID we always pass a doobie to the left? Oh, clockwise! Got it!
Cyberpope - Richmond, Canada
Yaw Mun ... In Canada a Dutchie is a delicious square sugary glazed doughnut with raisans and cinnamon !! Don't remember ever smoking one ... Mun !!Barry - Gagetown Nb Canada, -
This song is ONLY about smoking weed and nothing else. If you know anything about Jamaican music, this is a popular topic, and the album covers from that era are covered with weed plants and the artists smoking huge spliffs, much like today. Marijuana harvests only once a year, in Jamaica it's anywhere from October to December, the lyric mentioning the month of June is obvious to any pot smoker relying on outdoor grown bud that it's dry season, but if he goes to the Rastafarian camp, they'll smoke him out (let him smoke their marijuana). To a Rasta the Kutchie is a sacramental object, and passing to the left is the proper etiquette. The fact that they changed Kutchie to Dutchie was for radio and TV airplay, and is a widely reported undisputed fact admitted by MCA and talked about in many MTV documentaries. There are hundreds of examples of record labels doing this throughout the history of recorded music. To argue this song is about anything other than smoking pot is like arguing Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back is about the obesity epidemic.Tom - Detroit, Mi
It's a song about oppression, man! :}) It doesn't matter if tyranny comes from some lords, wearing powder wigs, or some Rastafarians, wearing dreadlocks.
Watch the video again . . .
Being told to pass by the left side is saying that you have to be last in line - only getting a share if anything is left. It doesn't matter if its a bite or a hit.
Musical Youth's song is about how the music industry oppresses new artists (chuckle) . . . "Music happen to be the food of love."
The song is about music; reread the lyrics . . . P.S. if you don't think eleven-year-olds might smoke pot; wake up!
Juan - Spokane, Wa
Their only U.S. Top 100 record; but did manage to make the Top 10, peaked at No. 10 and stayed in the Top 100 for 18 weeks!!!Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Well what an interesting lot of reading, I actually grew up with these lads and in Winson Green area. They had to change the words slightly for polical reasons as they were considered too young to know about marijuana, "How does it feel when you have food" should read "How does it feel when you have no weed" and the dutchie is a dutch pot, a jamaican cooking vessel but the word kutchie had to be changed to dutchie for the same reasons above. I visit the grave sometimes too.Mike - Birmingham Uk, United Kingdom
These kids grew up on council estates in Brirmingham, and there's not much chance of being protected from the seedier side of life on a council estate in Birmingham - I speak from experience.
The thing is, this song has so many referecnces - to food and the breaking of ettiquette, hence passing food from the left.
Marijuana, without doubt, dutchie? Jamaican flag colours in the video? Rasta camp? Come on people. too obvious or words really.
Dutchie is a Jamiacan cooking pot. A refernece to starving people perhaps? Their heritage? Their preference of music?
Passing it form the left hand - could be a reference to Left-Wing Politics - with a stretch of the imagination of course.
Basically, this song, to the singers, was probably just about singing music they liked, referencing things they knew about. To the writers, this song could be anything from a refernce to drugs to protesting against abject poverty and racial discrimination (shown in the video).
There is no right or wrong answer because songs, like poems, are all about personal interpretation - Just remember CCAAPTT Context, Content, Audience, Attitude, Purpose, Themes and Tone and make up your own mind.
Magda - Cornwall, United Kingdom
Does anyone remember when Homer Simpson made a reference to this song in an eppisode of the Simpsons? Cracked me up!!Betj - Lima, Oh
Although Musical Youth's cover of the song is about being hungry from poverty, there is NO QUESTION that the ORIGINAL Mighty Diamonds version, "Pass The Kouchie," written by F. Simpson/L. Fergusson, is about smoking marijuana. Not only the mention of 'kouchie' or pipe, but singing overtly about "herb." Here are the original lyrics. No more debate should be necessary. Although the meaning of most of lyrics escapes me:

Pass the kouchie 'pon the lef' hand side
Pass the kouchie 'pon the lef' hand side
It a go bun, it a go dung, Jah know

It was a cool and lovely breezy afternoon
(How does it feel when you've got no herb?)
You could feel it 'cause it was the month of June
(If you got no herb you will walk an' talk)
So I lef' my gate and went out for a walk
As I pass the dreadlocks' camp I hear them say
(How do dey sing when you heard dem sing?)

Pass the kouchie 'pon the lef' hand side
Pass the kouchie 'pon the lef' hand side
It a go bun, it a go dung, Jah know

So I stopped to find out what was going on.
(How do you find when you make your stuff?)
For the spirit of Jah, you know he leads me on
(Them all have a leaf at the dreadlocks' camp)
There was a ring of dreads and a session was there in swing
I could feel the chill as I see and heard them say
(How do dey sing when you heard dem sing?)

Pass the kouchie 'pon the lef' hand side
Pass the kouchie 'pon the lef' hand side
It a go bun, it a go dung, Jah know
Dave - Ocala, Fl
... um... dutchie is also short for a type of joint, a dutch tulip???Greg - Brantford, On
Dont you see this song means all this... It is about poverty for those who want to believe it's about poverty and about weed for the people who want to believe it's about weed. When I had no knowledge and heard the song for the first time, I thought seriously they were talking about passing the dutch the dutch masters... I didn't even know it was a remake of a marijuana referenced song. In all peace and war issues, this song went global because of the wide meaning of this song.... Clever, why could they never produce another good hit? Well you see no one wants to buy into fakes, so there normal pop love songs and politcal nonsenses meant nothing anymore... And if they stood up for the rights as Bob Marley puts it they would of sung freely about marijuana the greatest plant on earth.... So this song is two meanings, believe what you want, but the true fact is, they knew exactly what they were producing to be able to sell it as a hit. DONE!Bob - Orlando, Fl
Dutchie referred to a cooking pot. In the original, Pass the Kutchie, the Mighty Diamonds is referring to marijuanna. Just so happens that "dutchie" was a close enough replacement to "kutchie." By adding, "how does it feel when you got no food," the Musical Youths was able to transform it into a hit about food without changing much of the lyrics of the song. Pretty clever.Jumaine - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Md
This song is so about smokin' the pot. Why are joints called a left handed cigarette? as far as it being a cooking pot, duh! Why do you think they call weed, pot. Because it was originally smoked in clay pots. bum ditty,bum, bum pass it to the left one. OUT!Derrick - Minneapolis, Mn
Rob is right! Dutchie means cooking pot! This song was on VH1 classic's top 100 one hit wonders!They said it meant cooking pot!Krista - Elyria, Oh
All of the above statements are true. Anyway, it is a pop song...when does a pop song have a singular theme or consistent symbolism? Sometimes they are just fun.Sarah - New Havcen, Ct
Rob you are ridiculous. this song is about the illegal drug marijuana. you must be high if you're denying the subject of this song. so share the wealth and pass me the freakin dutchie biatch!Sarah-beth - Bejing, La
The part about this song I never understood is...
Late in the song, you here a "beep beep" that sounds like the Warner Bros. cartoon Roadrunner. I could never figure out why it's in there...
Andrew - Tampa, Fl
It always reminded me of the phrase, "pas de deux" -- a classical dance move -- but "on the left hand side" is more like a contra dance or old colonial dance idea ... to me it's about dancing. This was kind of an old dance that young people do ... passing the dutchie...
I saw Lon Cheney walking with the queen
I saw the rastaman touch his toes
I saw the lady riding on a tiger
I saw Black Jack Heart Attack flying a kite
They were all passing the dutchie
On the left hand side
Ted - Berkshires, Ma
Junkies? Man, where is the love? We prefer the term "Sobriety-Impaired" and if you honestly think that this song isn't about smoking pot... well... "As I passed the dredlocks camp I heard them say..." Right. They're talking about watching a bunch of rastafarians.. eating out of a cooking pot.. because that's what rastafarians do, right?Michael - Idaho Falls, Id
That was quite thorough. The original song is about marijuana, but this version is not. Considering that it is a cover, it doesn't really matter what the original lyrics said. This song was remade because it had a good beat, and a great hook. Not because all the kids were junkies, which they very well could have been.Nathan - Defiance, Oh
The Truth of Musical Youth

The beginning
When Musical Youth started in the late 1970s, it was the brothers Michael and Kelvin Grant and Patrick and Junior (Frederick) Waite, with Fred Waite (Patrick and Junior's dad) who sang the lead and who coached the very young boys. Fred had been a part of The Techniques, who had some success in Jamaica. They recorded one 7" single: "Political/Generals" with Fred as lead singer. Shortly after that, the legendary BBC discjockey John Peel discovered them and did a 'Peel session' with Musical Youth. Shortly after that, they found themselves signed to MCA Records and Freddie Waite backed out, as it wasn't appropriate for a man of his age to be in a band called "Musical Youth". Dennis Seaton was recruited as the new lead singer and the recordings for their first album started.
The success
The success started with their debut single for MCA: "Pass The Dutchie", which became a worldwide smash, hitting number one around the globe and even entering the top 10 in the US. The song was a cover of the Mighty Diamonds' "Pass The Koutchie", but the word 'koutchie' was replaced by 'dutchie' (a Jamaican cooking pot from Dutch origin), as koutchie referred to marihuana. The sophomore single "Youth Of Today" had a more varied success, becoming a top 10 hit in several countries, but not even hit higher than #16 in their native country UK. Several hits with minor success followed: "Never Gonna Give You Up" (UK #8) and "Heartbreaker" from their debut album 'The Youth Of Today' and "007", "Tell Me Why", "16" and "She's Trouble" from 'Different Style', as well as a duet with Donna Summer: "Unconditional Love" from Summer's 'She Works Hard For The Money' LP. After the unexpected success of "Dutchie" and the debut album, MCA wanted Musical Youth to make a more US orientated album, which became 'Different Style' , with disco-influences and popsoul. The album failed to chart and after just one more single, the Eddie Grant penned and produced "Let's Go To The Moon" in 1984, it was over for Musical Youth. Dennis Seaton left the band in 1985 to pursue a solo carreer and the group disbanded

After the success
Dennis recorded an album for the German Bellaphon label in 1989, which reunited him with his idol Stevie Wonder, who had written and produced "Whatcha Walking 'Bout" for 'Different Style' They rerecorded the song for Dennis' solo debut 'Imagine That', plus a new song, "See U Later". Again, this release wasn't a real succes, and Dennis started working, only performing with his new band XMY in his spare time. In the meanwhile, Patrick Waite had hit the news in Birmingham several times for his criminal activities. Sadly enough, Patrick died of heart condition on February 18, 1993 when awaiting court appearance. Michael Grant has been the only former Musical Youth member whose carreer in the musci business kept on going, first recording with 5AM and later with his production and remix team under the same name. His brother Kelvin stays a bit of a mystery until today and Junior Waite had a nervous breakdown and sadly hasn't recovered.
Alfa - Cancon, United States
"Cooking pot", "Smoking pot".....not really that different :)Sherry - Honolulu, Hi
Natasha, Chico, CA - unfortunately, the band imploded when the extent of the members' drug problems were revealed, and two were subsequently locked up for possessionDave - Cardiff, Wales
alot of people roll blunts with dutch master cigars...dutchies?Ariel - _______, Nj
Though da song has many pot smokin words. like its gonna burn. and pass da dutchie to the left. its all aboot finding away out of an opression. So they filled it with music. its notta aboot drugs man. passing da dutchie was passing da food of love. they were mostly more so they passd the cooking pot ( not da weed) da food is da music, man. da first line in da song is music happen to be da food of lifeKaza - London, England
"A "Dutchie" is a Jamaican cooking pot."

Even though they changed the marijuana reference, it's still about "pot" heheh.
Elson - Los Angeles, Ca
This song uses a lot of symbolism. Not just weed references. "On the LEFT hand side" has a lot to do with the political side so inter-woven with Island cultural, social and religious beliefs and ideology shared by many. They sing about poverty and oppression and turn to this "Left-hond side" as they inhale the sweetness of a vision of a brighter future.Brian - Meriden, Ct
I constantly get down on people who think that certain songs are about drugs when they are not, but I'm not deaf: This is about marijuana. Best song ever about marijuana sung by a pre-teen.Craig - Madison, Wi
its blatantly about being hungry - pass the dutchie (cooking pot) 'how does it feel when you've got no food.' As for Pass the kutchie wel that needs no explainingGfdhhgfd - Gfr, Ma
Huh! I never cook my pot before I smoke it. Hey and I'm dutch and I'm supposed to know that you pass the dutchie (joint) on the left hand side. As you might know Holland is a big producer of marihuana.Dan - Amsterdam, Az
how could anyone who not understand the drug reference in this song? (granted the words were replaced)Kevin - Babylon, Ny
There was definitely NO drug reference. Rob's comment is completely true. These guys were even too young to even think of drugs back in the days!
Abother fact about this song: the so called 'riddim' that the song is based on, is the "Full Up" riddim. Lots and lots more info on Musical Youth soon online @ www.musicalyouth.net.
Nathan - Apeldoorn, Netherlands
Even with the lyric change the drug reference was still clear, at least to pot smokers like I was at the time. When you get high one of the side effects is a desire to eat, so "Pass The Dutchie" means "Pass the food, man, I got a bad case of the Munchies." Side note: One of the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments is loss of appetite and some doctors encourage (prescribe where legal) pot usage to increase appetite.Shell - Riverdale, Ga
ah, song brings back memories. i remember watching the video & my brother taped it. What happened to the group?Natasha - Chico, Ca
First of all i would like to congradulate the group that played the song "pass the Duchie". i like this song because hwn it plays ifeel like i am within the group which is doing the best out of the rest, i don't smoke even the chalie but i like reggae music as it makes me fell free, and when this song play i feel like i am smoking marijuana. jah guide, jah bless ahoy!!Ramusia - South Farica, Thohoyandou, United States
dutchie is a cooking pot, the lyric was changed to dutchie from kutchie, which means a pot pipeAriel - Woodbridge, Ct
Rob, are you actually gonna try to tell me that a reggae group cares about cooking?Icy - New Albany, Ms
Has absolutely NOTHING to do with Marijuana.In Jamaica a DUTCHIE is a cooking pot not smoking pot!Rob - Bayonne, Nj