bob marley

May 22, 2008

Bob Marley is one of my all-time favorite singers. I love the layering and complexity of his music. Each instrument, singer, shaker, conga, drum — everything fits so well, but often theydo things unexpectedly or unconventionally. It’s great how reggae makes the bass play the melody and the guitar keep rhythm. I especially like how most of Bob Marley’s music was before everything became too electronic, so each instrument is a live instrument. Each performance was such an intense, communal, and unique experience.

His lyrics speak of poverty, God, love, brotherhood, and so much more. It’s really rare to have popular singers come from the third world and address the unique concerns of the poor in such an intimate way. Sure, U2 and others are great for bringing issues like this to the fore, but they can never see poverty from the bottom looking up. In this way, Bob Marley’s music fits in with the rich African American tradition of spirituals, gospel, jazz, and the blues. In all of these musical styles, there’s some kind of beauty or joy that comes out of the expression of one’s unique life struggles and experiences.

Too bad Bob died so young. He did a lot in 36 years……


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