Reggae king Robert Nesta Marley, better known as Bob Marley, would have been 67 years old on Monday, February 6th. He was the first Jamaican superstar who gave hope to the thousands living in poverty and oppression and preached through his ska, rocksteady and reggae music.
Songs like “One Love,” “No Woman, No Cry,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Exodus,” “Zimbabwe,” and “No More Trouble” allowed not only the people of Africa to move to positive vibrations, but people of all continents.
Born to a white father and a black mother, he criticized the corruption of the masses and urged freedom from mental slavery, while reminding many to live with love and peace. He constantly emphasized the abolishment of racism and hate, stating “Me don’t dip on the black man’s side nor the white man’s side. Me dip on God’s side.” Marley was a not only a musical voice but also a political voice that criticized social injustices. Because of his involvement in politics, there was an attempted assassin in 1976 before his “Smile Concert” in Kingston, Jamaica.
With the melodies of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, the early Bob Marley & The Wailers set the stage to revolutionize reggae music that seeped everywhere, despite cultural and social boundaries, and hit the right notes on what people of the world were feeling. Marley’s music was something (and is still something) that everyone can listen to.
A common misconception is that reggae music equals marijuana music. Granted, it does have some “mellow” instruments, but nevertheless every facet of Marley’s music has a different tune and beat that works for every feeling. “Get Up, Stand Up” calls for rising to claim your rights, “Is This Love” playfully expresses the blissful feelings of those in love, “Easy Skanking,” and “Punky Reggae Party” let’s you move to the bass in any environment.
While it may be difficult to pick out a favorite, “Redemption Song” is one that is highly cherished by all Marley fans. Marley was a great singer and musician for sure —but he was a greater songwriter. “Redemption Song,” written in 1979 when he was already diagnosed with cancer, is an acoustic that expresses the painful confrontation with morality, reminding one that “nothing can stop a good time,” and immortalizes Marley with Marcus Garvey’s quote, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind.”
Since his passing on May 11th in 1981 at the young age of 36, Marley’s legacy has been cherished throughout the world. His music has influenced many greats after him: UB40, Eric Clapton, U2, and Sublime. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, Time Magazine named Exodus Album of the Century in December 1999 and “One Love” was titled Song of the Millennium by BBC. In 2001, he was given The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was the 2,171st star added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Bob Marley’s music has lived with us for fifty years now and we know there are many more left. Happy Birthday, Bob.
Marley’s Top 10 for V-Day:
Change up the mood with some of Bob’s best
- Stir It Up
- Is This Love
- Satisfy My Soul
- Turn Your Lights Down Low
- Mellow Mood
- Waiting In Vain
- No Woman, No Cry
- Soul Shakedown Party
- Could You Be Loved
- One Love