Another forgotten gem from the 1980s is alive once again thanks to the popular series Stranger Things, and this time, the song’s about weed.
1982 hit “Pass the Dutchie” hit number 89 in the U.K. chart during the third week in June after the song was featured in the Netflix series Stranger Things—representing a resurgence in popularity. “Pass the Dutchie” also hit number 18 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Streaming Songs chart in the U.S.
The song comes on when long-haired stoner character Argyle, played by Eduardo Franco, and Eden are in the back of his pizza van, which gives it a nice stoney vibe. The lyrics “pass the dutchie ‘pon the left hand side” is instantly recognizable to people who grew up with the song.
Most people are aware of Stranger Things’ power to resurrect Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God),” charting after 37 years—hitting number 8 on the U.S. Billboard chart, which was a better performance than in 1985. To put a good picture into how powerful the show is, Bush earned $2.3 million as of last week—from a 37-year-old song—due to the surge in sales thanks to being featured on Stranger Things.
The show also breathed life into other songs. “Pass the Dutchie” was a 1982 hit single for British band Musical Youth, five young singers whose parents emigrated from Jamaica and specialized in reggae.
The song is actually a mash-up of a few tracks, a short intro from U Roy’s ‘Rule the Nation’ and vocals by guitarist Kelvin Grant coming from U Brown’s ‘Gimme the Music’. But the song is mostly a cover of the Mighty Diamonds’ “Pass the Kouchie,” with “kouchie” being slang for a pipe. However “dutchie” became more common later on, being a word to instead describe an L-shaped joint or blunt.
The band was ironically quite young for an adult-themed song about passing weed around in a circle: the group’s oldest band member, Dennis Seaton, was only 15 when “Pass the Dutchie” was released. It hit number 10 in the U.S. Billboard chart and number 1 in the U.K. chart.
The band earned two Grammy Awards, but disbanded long ago in 1985. Band member Patrick Waite died in 1993 at age 24, however the band has reunited a few times.
The song has inevitably helped to shape stoner culture. It has sold over five million copies worldwide.
Music critic Carlyle Williams said the show has done wonders for the song. “The show’s fourth season has introduced its young audience to some classic songs which has led to a rebirth for those tracks in the British and American charts as the youngsters have started streaming these hits of the past,” Williams told the Jamaica Observer. “Stranger Things is arguably the biggest show on Netflix right now and it is quite popular with the youth demographic.”
“Britain is known for its love of old-school music, and Stranger Things, which is set in the 1980s, has definitely found favor with the current generation of music lovers,” he said.
Beyond Stranger Things, “Pass the Dutchie” was also used in the 1998 Adam Sandler film The Wedding Singer and 2002’s Scooby Doo: The Movie.
The soundtrack, Stranger Things: Music From The Netflix Original Series Season 4, was released on May 27. It also includes hidden gems from the 1980s, such as “Tarzan Boy” by Baltimora, or “You Spin Me Round” by Dead or Alive, or other Top 10 hits like “Object of My Desire” by Starpoint or “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco.
Stranger Things Season 4’s cast includes Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, and Caleb McLaughlin.