30 years ago, 11th May 1981, ultimate legend Bob Marley lost his battle against cancer in a hospital in Miami, Florida, but as we all know, his legacy well and truly lives on.
In my opinion he is the greatest artist ever. Third world superstar that not only brought through refreshing music that broke the concepts of how music was made and structure, through his music we understand a whole culture and different perspective on life not only from Jamaica, but on behalf of the oppressed. Bob gave a voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless with an uncompromising attitude that had it's detractors at the time, but I'm sure most will have converted by now. An advocate of the marijuana rappers talk about like it's nothing now, but back then, it was a big deal.
His physical appearance was unlike anything seen before. Dreadlocks weren't the done thing in Jamaica let alone musicians in the Western world. Rastafarian beliefs were shunned by colonial Jamaica. It's crazy how us born post-Bob in the life form look back and think Bob was this loved guy. He was hated by those in higher society. To loosely quote the self-proclaimed dancehall hero, Vybz Kartel, Bob went from being known as "the dutty head rasta bwoy to the face of Jamaican tourism". I guess, at the end of the day, Bob encompassed the Jamaican spirit as a whole. When I say Jamaica, I mean the people, not the babylonians he fought against. Rebellious, forthright, outspoken and often misunderstood because of the aforementioned.
So yeah, Bob brought through the little island of Jamaica's culture to the musical forefront in a major way. Can't forget Island records founder Chris Blackwell's vision. Legend of legends.
Only Michael Jackson and Elvis can possibly have a whisper in his ear on a level about who's the best at music, but to me Bob is easily the best. His songs were more social, for the people, less money pumped into him with glossy videos, didn't jump on a next man's sound to get where he did. Yes, Chris Blackwell involved rock influences, but it was reggae. Bob brought through a face, culture and religion the world didn't know. That usually scares people. Sign of the great man. A great artist. And let's not forget that voice. Didn't have to be all technical and hit all these different octaves, for passion, emotive lyrics and empowerment, no one comes close. No Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Neil Young none of them.
First ten songs that spring to mind are:
Is This Love? - I love this song so much. It is definitely love, Bob, trust me. This will probably be the most obvious song the collection but I had to include it. This and "Waiting In Vain" are my fave lovers songs by Bob.
Crazy Baldheads - I think I'll always associate this song with Lennox Lewis, because it was always his ring entrance song. Too many quotables in this. "Brainwash education to make us to fools. Hatred you reward for our love. Telling us of your God above... We're gonna chase those crazy bald heads out of town." Already we see the diversity; from light-hearted catchy love song ("Is This Love?" above) to rebellious, fight the power "Crazy Baldhead".
"Buffalo Soldier" has a serious groove, enlightening about the slave trade ("Stolen from Africa/ Brought to America/ Fighting on arrival/ Fighting for survival) at a time when musicians on the global scale weren't like that at all. As far as I know, none of those Motown artists made any song like this.
"The Heathen" taken from the seminal Exodus album created here in the UK - another solid groove and what a first verse. "Rise up fallen fighters/ Rise and take your stance again/ For he who fights and run away/ Lives to fight another day/ Put the heathen back, yeah, pon the wall". Another great example of the Rasta rebellion.
"Who The Cap Fit" - the lyrics read like a manual script on how to avoid betrayal in friendship. I can imagine he wrote this after an incident, but instead of wishing bad on others, he chose to help us dismiss them.
"War" - Bob channels the energy of His Imperial Majesty King Haile Selassie through words from one of his famous speeches. Once again, another full of quotables that are still relevant today. "Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, well, everywhere is war. Until there is no longer first class nor second class citizens of any nation. Until the colour of a mans skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes, I've got to say war..."
I've just realised they always play John Lennon's "Imagine", but never this. Things that make you go hmm...
"Zimbabwe" - powerful song. "Every man has a right to decide his own destiny". So powerful, they had Bob Marley fly out to Zimbabwe to celebrate their independence. As you can probably tell, I love the rebellious stuff against oppressors. When you check how limited technology was back then, Bob Marley was very educated and in touch with what was going on. Wasn't like he Google'd or had 24 hour news coverage like we do. He didn't live there but managed to create songs they could relate to. Amazing
"So Much Trouble In The World" - voice of the voiceless. Still relevant today. Will always be relevant.
"Them Belly Full (But We Angry)" - freedom fighter anthem against social class. This type of music inspired the whole punk rock movement. And this is all before the hip hop movement.
"Simmer Down" - top draw ska riddim. Definitely one for the shufflers. If your granddad is anything like man, he owned the dance floor. Mum and I dance to these songs all the time. Well, mum shows me how to dance to it and I follow her lead, spin her about lol.
"Trenchtown Rock" - "One thing about music when it hits you, you feel no pain". Enough said (and yes, Drake copied it from him - obviously).
"Natural Mystic" - one of the best opening tracks on an album (Exodus) ever! The way it creeps up. Didn't know what he was talking about for a while but I think he's alluding to the change in social conditions. I believe this was recorded after he was shot, so would have been just as the political warfare in Jamaica was nearing its peak. Comparatively, over here in the UK, there was a big change while Thatcher was in power, which meant Reagan was in at the same time.
And bonus material, footage from his funeral. Really touching. I've been to the site in Nine Miles. Long to get to but well worth it. It's the family land where he was born and raised before moving to Kingston.
Yeah so I did 12 songs. You try picking 10 then.
Rest in Power Bob Marley
Oh, one more, "Time Will Tell" - "Jah will never give the power to a baldhead. Want come crucify the dread. Time alone, oh time will tell. You think you're in heaven but you're living in hell". Lyrics
And I'll leave you on my favourite Bob Marley EVER!
"Redemption Song" - one of the last songs he recorded.
"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery none but ourselves can free our mind" is arguably my favourite lyric ever.