Oh Bumbo Klaat


And this is where Peter Tosh leaves me and my limited understanding of Ras culture in the dust. In other words, what? I strive to get a grasp of the context and meaning of the music I listen to, to the best of my powers, but when the singer leaves English behind, I can’t really follow. Tosh is not an artist whose each and every most obscure song has its own in-depth Wikipedia, so here I have to turn to the wider interwebs for help.  Is it a political call to arms or a spiritual message? Something of a personal nature? Lines from a Hollywood musical? None of those. It’s Jamaican slang for toilet paper, aka what seems a very mild and gentle expletive. So Peter Tosh is so aggrieved at the ugliness and injustice of the world he sees around him, he can’t help himself uttering curses. He’s basically shaking his fist at the sky and hollering “Buttwipe!” into the void. I have to laugh a little at the absurdity of that. To us, ‘buttwipe’ is an insult a grade school child would resort to, but apparently the Rasta don’t go in much for rough language and bumboclaat is considered an extremely vulgar thing to say. To Tosh, who was nothing if not earnest, this is the strongest language he could choose to carry the force of his discontentment. I do hope he got a bit of a giggle out of it, though. You gotta get at least a little chortle out of having ‘The Buttwipe Song’ on your track list.

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