In a world of war and persecution, with Babylon rising all around, members of the cannabis culture pause today to celebrate reggae prophet Bob Marley’s birthday.
Born February 6th, 1945 in rural Jamaica, Marley left home at 14 to begin his musical career in Kingston, Jamaica. His early hits were typical Jamaican dancehall music, but within a few years he had joined up with Peter Tosh and other musicians who saw music as a spiritual-political venture.
Bob was heavily influenced by Jamaican ganja, which back then was mostly African and Caribbean varieties that thrived on the island’s semi-tropical climate. He almost always had a phat spliff in his mouth, exhaling sweet smoke while singing his yearning, classic songs about love, religion, civil rights, and struggle.
His voice was winsome and sincere, tinged with ganja smoke but never torn by it, and his music over the years evolved into a new form that he virtually created – reggae – that became worldwide famous on the strength of hits like Jamming, One Love, No Woman No Cry, Catch a Fire, and Redemption Song.
Marley’s version of Rastafarianism, steeped in cannabis and African tradition, was defiant and yet peaceful, unlike the more militant anti-white Rasta tradition that is permeating troubled Jamaica today.
He advised people to “get up, stand up, stand up for your rights,” but also sang of rural life, reconciliation, heaven, and human dignity with a soulfulness and energy that no other reggae performer has been able to equal.
When I interviewed Marley’s son Damian backstage at a Damian Marley concert last year (CC#39, Damian Marley), he said his father was a complex man who would have been deeply troubled by the deterioration of Jamaica, which has been destabilized by the US drug war and globalist monetary and interventionist policies, as well as global warming’s effects on rainfall, fisheries and vegetation.
The young Marley, who looks a lot like his dad and whose music combines note-perfect renditions of his father’s work with the latest dance groove, rap, and hip-hop styles, noted that his father had survived an assassination attempt in Jamaica in December, 1976, and that Bob’s political fearlessness had serious consequences for a man who could have made millions of dollars simply by singing safe, feel-good reggae love songs.
Bob Marley would have been 58 years old today if he had not succumbed to cancer, or some other as yet unspecified aliment, on May 11, 1981 at age 36.
If the dreadlocked icon was alive today, he would certainly have been a major force in world politics and in the music industry.
Our worried world surely needs his voice and spirit now more than ever, singing new songs about justice, about US Empire and its Babylon delusions of ruling the world by imperialist brute force, but Bob was taken from us in person, and all we can do is light a candle and a phat Lamb’s Bread spliff for him, sway to his music, and see to it that he lives on in ourselves.
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”
—-Bob Marley, from Redemption Song.