Bob Marley was the Third World’s first pop superstar. In all honesty, I don’t like the term third world because as Bob Marley said one love, which means one world. He was the man who introduced the world to the mystic power of reggae. He was a rocker at heart and gifted songwriter. He brought the lyrical force of a Bob Dylan with the personal charisma of a John Lennon, and the essential vocal stylings of Smokey Robinson into one voice. But to be clear, Bob Marley was so much more and in a class by himself which is why he became a legend!
In 1999 Time Magazine chose Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Exodus as the greatest album of the 20th century. This spoke to his international acclaim where his message continues to reverberate among people around the world. My favorite song is the huge political hit “Stand-up, Stand-up for your Rights”. The true testament of his greatness is the volume of greats artist who have recorded the many great songs he’s written.
Marley, in has life and after his death, evolved into a global symbol of freedom. Author Dave Thompson wrote in his book Reggae and Caribbean Music, laments what he perceives to be the commercialized pacification of Marley’s more militant edge, stating:
“Bob Marley ranks among both the most popular and the most misunderstood figures in modern culture … Gone from the public record is the ghetto kid who dreamed of Che Guevara and the Black Panthers, and pinned their posters up in the Wailers Soul Shack record store; who believed in freedom; and the fighting which it necessitated, and dressed the part on an early album sleeve; whose heroes were James Brown and Muhammad Ali; whose God was Ras Tafari and whose sacrament was marijuana.
Instead, the Bob Marley who surveys his kingdom today is smiling benevolence, a shining sun, a waving palm tree, and a string of hits which tumble out of polite radio like candy from a gumball machine. Of course, it has assured his immortality.”
His songs and music spoke to the struggles of the least of thee and to the souls of the ordinary person trapped outside of the establishment, which has endeared him to his fans and the world. As we celebrate and pay homage to this month dedicated to Black Music; I would be remised not to include Bob Marley as one of the greatest musical legends of our time – if not all times.
I know right now Bob Marley is “Jamming” right now with the ghosts of the greats! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…