Friday, February 6, 2015

Bob Marley sang of and for freedom (video)

Songs of Freedom: The Music of Bob Marley - Peter Saint-Andre, Full Context:

September 1993 - "The rock group Rush is the most famous libertarian band in the world, and justifiably so.... But there are other popular musicians who sing songs of freedom, one of the best of whom was the Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley, who died in 1981. He was the most famous popular artist to come out of the Third World, and the most consistent in his celebration of freedom....

"Marley's music and thought is bound up with the religion of Rastafari. However, the essence of Rasta (which Marley once said means 'righteousness') is substantially political, so that the themes of Rasta and politics are often intertwined in Marley's music.

"Marley's earlier political songs are mostly protests against the system. Consider these lines from the song 'Slave Driver': 'Every time I hear the crack of a whip my blood runs cold / I remember on the slave ship how they brutalized the very souls / Today they say that we are free / Only to be chained in poverty'. Or these from 'Concrete Jungle', a song about life in a government housing project: 'Concrete jungle, where the living is hardest / Man, you've got to do your best / No chains around my feet but I'm not free / I know I am bound here in captivity'. Or these from 'Rebel Music (Three O'Clock Road Block)': 'Why can't we roam this open country / Why can't we be what we want to be / We want to be free'.

"Later in his career, Marley's songs became more than mere protest songs, and even evidenced an understanding of the causes of political problems. In 'Revolution', he sings: 'Never make a politician grant you a favor / They will always want to control you forever'. In 'War', he expounds on why the world is filled with conflict: 'Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned / Until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation / Until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes / Until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race / There's war'. Yet Marley is not anti-Western in his denunciation of injustice – he explicitly mentions 'the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique, South Africa', which must be 'toppled' and 'utterly destroyed' if war is to vanish.

"One of my favorite Marley songs, and one expressing his belief in human rights for all, is 'Get Up Stand Up' (which Amnesty International uses as its unofficial anthem). What I like about it is its secularism, and at the same time its insistence that you demand your rights. Here are some representative lines: 'Most people think great god will come from the sky, take away everything and make everybody feel high / But if you know what life is worth you will look for yours on earth / And now when you see the light, stand up for your right / Get up stand up, stand up for your right / Get up stand up, don't give up the fight / Life is your right, so don't give up the fight'."

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