Johnny Nash had no particular episode of personal hardship in mind when he composed “I Can See Clearly Now” in the early 1970s, though over the years it has struck a firm chord with generations who appreciate its feeling of new hope emerging from the despair: “I can see clearly now the rain has gone / I can see all obstacles in my way / Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind / It’s gonna be a bright, bright, sunshine-y day.”
He died last week at age 80.
Nash was American but spent time living in Jamaica in the mid-1960s, and the island’s influence on his music came to the fore in 1968, when his rock-steady compositions “You Got Soul” and “Hold Me Tight” were Top 10 hits in the UK, helping to kickstart a period of mainstream interest in reggae that remains to this day.
His reggae-fied version of Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” made it to No. 6 in the UK the following year, followed by “Stir it Up,” written for him, and later reclaimed, by his friend Bob Marley. That…