Feb 26 2010

Redemption Song

Published by at 5:09 pm under Uncategorized

“I love the development of our music.

How we’ve tried to develop, y’know? It grows.

That’s why every day people come forward with new songs.

Music goes on forever” –Bob Marley

Redemption Song

Bob Marley

I’ll never forget the first time I heard a Bob Marley song, everything from the beat of the music to the words caught my attention and ever since then I have been listening to his music and collecting his albums.  His music is timeless, and remains constant even years after his death.  It has made him a popular cultural icon which has changed music forever.  It kills me to think that I missed out on seeing him live. He not only changed music in general but changed Jamaican music greatly and took on a more slow sensual rhythm called rock steady.

Redemption song is a very empowering and moving song written by Bob Marley.  It was the last song on Bob Marley and The Wailers album Uprising, which was released in 1980.  It was also the last album that was ever released during Marley’s lifetime.  The record label was Tuff Gong, and the album was about thirty six minutes long.

Redemption song is 3 minutes and 47 seconds long, Bob Marley sings it and also plays guitar (Rhythm and Acoustic not really sure about which in this specific song).  The moods of this song seem to be extremely passionate and at the same time mellow while emphasizing on his favorite reoccurring themes: “empowerment, psychological, as well as physical freedom” (Bush, allmusic.com).  Social, spiritual beliefs and love were also important themes to his songs. The first verse emphasizes on slavery and freedom:

“Old pirates yes they rob I

Sold I to the merchant ships

Minutes after they took I from the

Bottomless pit

But my hand was made strong

By the hand of the almighty

We forward in this generation triumphantly

All I ever had is songs of freedom

Won’t you help me to sing these songs of freedom

Cause all I ever had redemption songs”

The way in which Marley describes slavery in the beginning comes of as such a personal experience, and then describes it almost as a generation together worked hard and moved through it in a triumphant way.  With religious references of the almighty it seems that God can be referred to as one of the helping hands.  It also seems that Marley is trying to say that through out being enslaved freedom songs were there to comfort those in slavery.  I truly believe that music can be comforting mentally and that when you are experiencing hardships a song can help.  As Bob Marley sings of it “freedom songs” were “all I ever had”.

The next verse:

“Emancipate your selves from mental slavery

None but yourselves can free our minds

Have no fear for atomic energy

Cause none a them can stop the time

How long shall they kill our prophets

While we stand aside and look

Some say it’s just a part of it

We’ve got to fulfill the book”

I honestly have a million thoughts on the second verse but can’t seem to express them well. I think that Marley is letting us as individuals realize that only we can free our minds from mental slavery.  Despite what goes on all around us, mentally we can be free if we choose to be.  It could even be the choice of music we listen to that gives us the feel of freedom.  For some that may be one of the only freedoms they have.

Another good point I also think that Marley is trying to get across is that being “free” may not necessarily mean to be “free”.  In a way I can relate this to U.S. society because all though we are free, are we really truly free?  Sometimes routine daily lives can come off as “mental slavery”.  For instance a routine job that takes no thought or creativity can come off as a daily mental slavery certain people endure.

The fact that this song was the last song on the album Uprising, the last album Bob Marley ever released while still living is pretty ironic.  It can be seen as almost a finale for the songs he created through the years.  It included a lot of the themes he has sung about in the past and really does it with passion.  Bob Marley was truly an amazing and talented singer and person.  Not only did he create great music but also won many awards.  His music changed reggae forever, and not only impacted his home country Jamaica but also impacted the world.

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Redemption Song”

  1.   Anda Pielaruon 28 Feb 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I am sad to say, that i am not too familiar with Bob Marley nor with his songs, except for a few. But the good thing is, that i can change this. From reading this essay of yours, Jessica, i feel inspired to listen to his songs more. I agree with one of the many good points you have made. I am with you one hundred percent that no matter the circumstances of someone’s life, a song/music in general could help change something even if it is how this certain person is feeling for that moment. The reason for my agreeing with this statement, is that i can relate. For example, if i am feeling heartbroken over someone or something, i listen to a slow, passion-filled song and i remind myself that i am not alone in feeling this way. But enough about me. To get back to your paper, i give it thumbs up !

  2.   ylok100on 28 Feb 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I’d have to agree with you in that his songs tend to be more spiritual and focuses on “freeing” oneself. In a way it is effective because the song has a very nice smooth melody to go along with the spiritualness of the piece. I really like how you interpreted the freedom that was mentioned in the song to the freedom we have today in society. There are always grey areas but he does define freedom for us in this song through lyrics and musical sound..and in a way, is music “free”? Music can free one’s mind, yes but thinking about it in terms of the industry – music can also not be “free”. Its contradicting but also a good point to look at.

  3.   Jamie Parganoson 01 Mar 2010 at 6:54 am

    Bob Marley is, in my opinion, one of the top ten musicians in the history of recorded music. This was an excellent choice! I love your interpretation of the lyrics. They are so powerful that I got chills just recalling them as I read this article. The lyrics are partially borrowed from a speech by Marcus Garvey about pan-Africanism. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on how this song, which was an international success, became more about international unity than nationalism, as Marcus Garvey intended his speech to be. Again, excellent choice!

  4.   Priest Raschon 23 Apr 2013 at 5:00 am

    Howdy! I just wish to give you a big thumbs up for your excellent info you have got right here on this post. I’ll be coming back to your blog for more soon.

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