Tag Archives: Jamaica

My Favorite Bob Marley Songs

If I had the time, I would write a detailed post about how Bob Marley’s legacy is much more than the posters emblazoned with red, green and gold and pictures of that illegal plant. But, alas, time is not on my side. Instead, I give you my top 5 songs by the late, great, Right Honorable Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley.

5. Exodus – The title track from his 9th album with the Wailers – the album that Time selected as the best of the 20th century. This song feels like fuel for a revolution. Love it!

4. Natural Mystic – I have no real justification for my love of this song. It just feels like it’s always been a part of my life.

3. Redemption Song– I have a vague memory of studying the lyrics of this song as a poem and participating in a choral elocutionary rendition in school. It’s funny, I can actually visualize the book with the poem but I can’t recall if this happened in high school or earlier. Regardless, I have heard so many horrible covers of this song through the years (Yes, I’m looking at you Rihanna) that I almost wrote it off with One Love, and Three Little Birds. But I think that longtime study of the words gave me such a deep appreciation for this song that I can’t let it go. We forward in this generation, triumphantly!

2. Satisfy my Soul – I discovered this song relatively late. I was very used to the revolutionary side of Bob, but not so much his love songs. Come to think of it, I first listened to this song because I read the Colin Channer book of the same name. Colin Channer is a great (New-York based) Jamaican writer, who hails from my hometown of Montego Bay. Anyway, I remember listening to this song for the first time, and just getting it. Whatever it is.

1. War – Adapted from the words of a speech made by then Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie 1 before the UN General Assembly in 1963. The words still ring true today. Another song for the soundtrack to any revolution. Unfortunately the best videos of him performing this song can’t be embedded, but you can always visit the Island Records youtube page for more videos.

Special Mentions:

Forever Loving Jah

Duppy Conqueror

Could You Be Loved

Rastaman Chant

What are your favorites?

Separating the Artist(e) from his Art

Just a few hours after I wondered out loud (via twitter) what had happened to @cucumberjuice, she sent up a smoke signal via her latest blog post. In her heartfelt, sincere letter to Jamaican dancehall luminary Bounty Killer, she struggled to reconcile his badman persona with his self-proclaimed role as the poor people’s governor and his inexplicable addiction to battering females :-/

I don’t fancy myself a Bounty Killer fan, never have been. I remember the early 90’s when everybody in Jamaica was taking sides between Bounty and Beenie Man. At that time, I was busy listening to Whitney Houston & Celine Dion (don’t act like you don’t know all the words to It’s All Coming Back to Me Now !) But if pressed, I would have picked Beenie. Why? In retrospect, it was probably because Bounty always seemed like a very angry man. So when he announced his ‘Cross, Angry, Miserable‘ catchphrase in the mid-00’s, it was very fitting. (Pause: Are we about to start a new decade? Wasn’t the Y2K scare just yesterday?!) But I have no problem admitting that he is unmatched in his ability to deliver socially conscious messages over dancehall beats, so there are several songs in his arsenal that I consider classic and do in fact, love. (See: Look, Anytime, Fed Up).

Now despite the well-known juxtaposition between Rodney – the son who loves his mother, and Killer – the artiste well known for his domestic violence; I was still surprised to hear that he [allegedly] attacked one of his concubines girlfriends with a hammer and mosquito zapper 0_o . I was shocked for two reasons:

1. A mosquito zapper!!! Who the heck attacks someone with a mosquito zapper?
2. Just months ago he was facing charges for attacking his then partner, and one would think he would wait a while before resuming his usual ways.

That being said, unlike my twitren @cucumberjuice, I felt largely unaffected by this. I keep up with entertainment news as much as the rest of my generation but I’m one of the few that was unmoved when Michael Jackson died and never saw the need to engage in extended discourse over the Chris Brown and Rihanna debacle. While music is universally acknowledged as a way to express and evaluate our emotions, if we don’t separate our feelings for the art from those we have for the artist, we’ll never be able to listen to anything. I don’t mean to exonerate artists from all culpability for their actions, but with all the craziness going on in Hollyweird, I’ve given up on holding artists to anything more than the most base moral standard.

I came to that conclusion once R. Kelly’s golden showers w/ the kiddies came to light. R. Kelly remains one of the most prolific songwriter/producers of my generation (MJ’s You Are Not Alone, Whitney’s I Look to You, Toni Braxton’s I Don’t Want To, Ruben Studdard’s I Need an Angel, not to mention his own catalogue of hits). When that story broke, I had friends who vowed never to listen to R. Kelly again. My thought process was quite different: Why should I lose the pleasure of listening to good music because the musician is crazy (or corrupt … or criminal?)

I also pondered the double standard when the clarion calls were sounded to boycott Chris Brown. You mean to tell me all y’all really believed MJ was innocent? O_0 Or did people not care because he was the King of Pop? Hmmm…

Anyway, the only way for me to enjoy music (and by the same standard: films, books, plays, art etc.) is to separate the artist from the art. Until next time, I’mma Run it and Beat It cuz I Believe I Can Fly, even though I’m a Sufferer! 🙂