Tuesday, January 24

Who is Bob Marley?

To continue our series on great men and their world-changing ideas, today let me introduce to you BOB MARLEY.

image courtesy of stock.xchng

Bob Marley is considered the Third World’s first pop superstar. He was born in the tiny Caribbean island of Jamaica. But he will become the man credited for bringing the mystical, healing power of reggae music to the entire world.

In 1999, Time magazine named his band’s album Exodus “the greatest album of the 20th century.”

Robert Nesta Marley was born at a time of conflict when black people were still fighting for their place in society. But "Bob" Marley had this to say about his own mixed blood:

I don't have prejudice against meself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Them call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't dip on nobody's side. Me don't dip on the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me dip on God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white.

One of Marley’s most famous quotes is “Light Up the Darkness.” He believed that we could unite all mankind – we could cure racism and hate in the world– through music and love.

In fact, one story was about a free concert called “Smile Jamaica” in December 1976, which was meant to ease tension between two political groups. Before the concert, unknown gunmen came to Marley’s home and shot him and his family down. His manager and wife were seriously injured but later made full recoveries. Marley sustained wounds in the chest and arm.

Two days after the attack, Bob Marley still walked onto the stage and performed. When somebody asked him “Why?” he answered: "The people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?"

Bob Marley died of cancer at the young age of 36. He died in Miami, in the middle of a plane trip back home to Jamaica. The last words he gave to his son Ziggy were: “Money can’t buy life.”

But at one point in his career, Marley had somehow foreseen and prophesied the lasting effect that he would have on generations. He said:

"My music will go on forever. Maybe it's a fool say that, but when me know facts me can say facts. My music will go on forever."

Indeed, but the question now is: What kind of image of him lives on?

These days, when people hear or say the name “Bob Marley,” they think: Beach. Coconut trees and sand.  Cool dreadlocks hair. The easy-going life. Weed. Fanciful but impractical Rastafari religion.

We know very little now of the original Bob Marley, who was a kid who grew up in the ghettoes, who pinned posters of Che Guevara on his walls, who was deeply interested in and knowledgeable of African and World history, who read the works of great leaders like Malcolm X.

In a word, the original Bob Marley was a man who valued freedom and peace. But he also believed in the necessity of fighting for people’s rights.

Far too often, we get lost in Marley's easy music: its catchy rhythm and melody. And we typecast him as a “feel-good artist” or as a “lover” (not a “fighter”). 

For example in the words of the song “Three Little Birds”:

"Don't worry about a thing, 

'Cause every little thing gonna be all right. 
Singin': "Don't worry about a thing, 
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!" 

So, the next time you listen to Marley's song on your iPod or iPhone, don’t think of it as just another hit song – no more no less – easy melody and easy sounds for your holiday on the beach. Think of the man behind the music. 

Don’t be fooled by the Bob Marley who spoke only in the native tongue (patois) that’s associated with the poor and uneducated.

There’s a whole lot more to the man than that.

Keep on learning !

P.S. Here's a music video of the whole song “Three Little Birds":

P.P.S. There’s a song with very similar lyrics and title “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” Contrary to popular belief, this was NOT written, sung or remade by Bob Marley, but by a completely different artist. 

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Marley">"Bob Marley"</a>, which is released under the <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ph/">Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0</a>.

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