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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tribute to Bob Marley

We've all heard songs like 3 Little Birds and Buffalo Soldier, but the true genius of Robert Nesta Marley was in his ability to make music that defined a people, a sentiment, and an age in history. Having a mixed heritage, he was constantly on the receiving end of racial acrimony. But enough about the stuff that you already know about and can access on the Internet.

I remember listening to Bob Marley's music during high school. Back then, I used to listen to it for lots of reasons, most of all though because it was great music to jump around to. I loved the beats, the rhythm and the way it made me want to prance around like a springbok. It just made me want to jump out of my seat, which I usually did, and go prancing off into the sunset. That, I didn't, thank God. But, the emotion was so heady, and the bassline was so bubbup-bubbup-bubbup, I couldn't help myself. Songs like Jammin' were an all-time favorite for prancing.

Another reason I liked to listen to this music was because of the words, and the sense of struggle. Some of the lyrics in these songs were so true, like "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds," from Redemption Song. There was a pained tinge to some of these songs, also because of the way he sang them, and that helped endear them to me. I didn't relate to the struggle, mind you. Just the emotion of realizing what it meant, and what it took to go through such an upheaval, especially on a personal level in my life.

It would be naive of me to say that this was Reggae music, but it was the first example of it that I'd come across in my life, and I liked it. A little after this mainstream introduction to this genre, I came across an "Early Years" CD of Bob Marley and the Wailers and I liked the slightly rawer feel to the music. It had songs with varying tempos and vocal arrangements, and songs like This Train had an almost 'worship' feel to them.

There will never be another Bob Marley. His message of peace and love lives on to this day. To me, in some sense, he and his message would be akin to Gandhi setting his words of wisdom to music. And for those of you gasping in horror at what he's doing here in this picture, so he's smoking a big jaja. So what? At least what he had to say made sense. A lot of apparently sober leaders of our society don't seem to be anywhere near being able to do what he did in his thirty-odd years alive.
One love. One heart. Let's get together and be alright."

Robert Nesta Marley for life!

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