I was in 7th grade, when I first heard a distinctive husky voice, singing in a thick, lilting accent. The enchanting tone along with the bouncy beats playing in the background piqued my curiosity, and compelled me to go and catch a glimpse of the music that was being played on the Vh1 channel. To my surprise, they were playing, what appeared to be a music video of the 70s, with a man with dreadlocks, dressed in a blue suit, singing at a child’s birthday party.
“Is this love, is this love that I’m feeling”, sang he.
The tables turned when this quirky love song led me to discover the genius of a truly international music icon hailing from Jamaica, the reggae lion, “Bob Marley”. Soon, I realized why Marley’s images were found everywhere, ranging from hats, scarves, and T-shirts to coffee mugs and posters. What brought Bob the much-deserved fame was, not only the catchy tunes, but also the core theme of most of his songs — world peace and revolution. He didn’t simply compose songs for the sake of entertainment, but he made soulful and meaningful music which has transcended the sands of time, retaining its relevance in a world that is completely different from the one that he thrived in. His songs spoke about the challenges that all humans face during their lives and how we can overcome them with “One love, One heart”.
I realized how unique Robert Nesta Marley was when I watched an interview where he was questioned if he was a rich man, who had made a lot of money from his music, to which he replied,
“Money? How much is a lot of money to you? If possessions make you rich, then I don’t have that type of richness. My richness is life, forever”.
Within a short span of 18 years, between 1963 and 1981, Bob Marley had achieved global stardom and amassed a huge fan-base, attracting thousands of people to his electric concerts. Days before his “Smile Jamaica Concert” in 1976, a group of gunmen attacked his home, and killed his wife Rita and shot Bob in the chest and arm, only because he supported the idea of equality of all Jamaicans. But this did not hold him back, and he went on to release his best album yet, “Exodus” on June 3, 1977. Although Marley was diagnosed with a type of skin cancer (acral lentiginous melanoma) in 1977, he went on to perform devoutly in several concerts and fests until he took his last breath in 1981, at a young age of 36. This man proved that, neither his health nor his age was a barrier to spread his message of love and equality at a global level. He is the sole reason for the popularization of reggae genre in the modern world.
Bob Marley was a great thinker, and will always be remembered as the king of reggae and the one true Rastafarian lion. His life, dedication for the upliftment of all people and his passion for music is the legacy that he has left behind for us to learn from and cherish.
What can we, a generation stuck in the Covid-19 lock down, all distressed and emotionally drained, take away from his legacy? We can learn to respect and help each other, love ourselves a little more, and find a way to overcome the hurdles of life valiantly. Here are a few of his quotes and lyrics that will surely give you the motivational boost, that you never knew you needed:
- “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, None but ourselves can free our minds”” — Redemption song, 1980
2. “In this bright future, you can’t forget your past, So dry your tears, I say” — No woman no cry, 1976
3. “Don’t let them fool ya, Or even try to school you. Don’t let them change ya, Or even re-arrange you” — Could you be loved, 1980
4. “We all defend the right, Jah-Jah children must unite, ’Cause life is worth much more than gold” — Jamming, 1977
5. “But my hand was made strong by the hand of the Almighty, We forward in this generation, Triumphantly” — Redemption song, 1980
6. “You just can’t live that negative way
Make way for the positive day” — Positive vibration, 1976
7. “So we gonna walk
Through the roads of creation
We the generation
Tread through great tribulation” — Exodus, 1978
8. “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight!” — Get up stand up, 1973
9. “Live for yourself and you will live in vain;
Live for others, and you will live again.”
10. “You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”
11. “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”
In the words of Bob Marley himself, “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain”. So here is the ultimate lock down playlist with some of my most favorite songs:
1. Redemption Song (1980)
2. No woman, no cry (1976)
3. Exodus (1978)
4. Is this love (1978)
5. Buffalo Soldier (1997)
6. I shot the sheriff (1976)
7. Could you be loved (1980)
8. Satisfy my soul (1978)
9. Jamming (1977)
10. Punky reggae party (1977)
11. Waiting in vain (1977)
12. Get up, stand up (1973)
13. Stir it up (1973)
14. One love (2005)
15. Three little birds (1977)