Artist of the Week (Legend Series)- Bob Marley

Said I remember when we used to sit

In the government yard in Trenchtown

Oba, ob-serving the hypocrites

As they would mingle with the good people we meet

Good friends we have had,

Oh, good friends we’ve lost along the way

In this great future you can’t forget your past

So dry your tears, I say

No, woman, no cry

Bob Marley did not die, he went home!  What can be said about Bob Marley that hasn’t already been said?  He is a hero to many Jamaicans, a revolutionary musician and a Legend to fans across the globe and to Enter the Shell.  This month we reflect back on a man who changed a nation with his music.  Isn’t that why we love music to begin with?  We love the fact that it is powerful, powerful enough to unite people and cause change.

Robert Nesta Marley was born from humble beginnings in Nine Mile, Jamaica.  While doing research for this blog, I found out that Marley was half black and half white, who knew?  That did not stop him from singing about the oppression and injustices of the black man.  He accomplished many things in his short lived life.  In 1978 he was awarded the Peace Medal from the UN and in 1981, Jamaica gave him their third highest honor, The Jamaican Order of Merit.  Rolling Stone ranked him No. 11 on the All-Time Greatest Artists and he was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

His music has also awarded him several honors:  In 1999, Time Magazine named Exodus the Album of the Century, The BBC named “One Love” song of the Millennium, Marley’s Greatest Hits Album Legend is the best-selling Reggae album of all-time and it is the second longest album on the Billboard 200 Charts of over 1,000 weeks. Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time has five Marley albums.  Not too bad for a poor boy from Jamaica!

Although Marley wasn’t the creator of the genre, he was the one who pioneered it and gave it (and himself) a face and platform for the world.  His music inspired a nation with his tales of abuse, oppression and racial discrimination against his people.  With songs like “I Shot the Sherriff,” Marley spoke about the Government: “I want to say ‘I shot The Police’ but the government would have made a fuss so I said ‘I shot the sheriff’ instead… but it’s the same idea: justice.”

Ironically, one of his greatest and best known songs, “Redemption Song” was recorded acoustically.  It doesn’t feature any reggae style music, yet it is probably his most powerful song he ever wrote.  This was also the last track on the last album released by Marley.  It was also his highest ranked song on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time, coming in at #66.

What is odd, yet powerful about his music was the fact that it was also uplifting.  Although he spoke of oppression, he also spoke of enlightenment, strength and faith.  One of the last tracks written evokes this spirituality, “But my hand was made strong/By the hand of the Almighty/We forward in this generation/Triumphantly/ Won’t you help to sing/These songs of freedom?….Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery/None but ourselves can free our minds/Have no fear for atomic energy/’Cause none of them can stop the time.”

Bob Marley was also no stranger to controversy.  Marley was one of the proponents of Marijuana.  Bob Marley fathered many children, with his official site acknowledging 11 children, but there are countless others.  Sadly, Marley died in 1981 at the age of 36, due to complications from cancer.  Although his life was short lived, he contributed hope to a country forgotten by most of the world.  He uplifted a nation with his songs of Freedom!

Top 5 Songs

1. Redemption Song

2. I Shot The Sheriff

3. Stir It Up

4. Roots, Rock, Reggae

5. No Woman, No Cry

Useful Links

Official Site

MySpace

Fansite

Book:  Bob Marley Bio (160 pgs) (Free)

The Bob Marley Movement

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