“Won’t you help to sing, these songs of freedom
’cause all I ever have, redemption songs”(Bob Marley, 1980)
Marley was born into Jamaica’s poverty and it is where he developed a strong love of reggae and became a Rastafari. Reggae, evolved from another musical style called Ska in the late 1960’s, is considered the voice of the ‘oppressed’ peoples. Many reggae lyrics are politicalised and centre on themes of freedom and fighting for it. (Cooper, 2014)
Rastafari is a theology based upon the writings of Marcus Garvey a Jamaican social activist. The movement’s global spread from Jamaica across the world has been strongly influenced by Bob Marley and closely associated with reggae. Many of Marley’s songs captured the essence of Rastafari religion and its social and political beliefs. (bbc.co.uk, 2014)
Marley was a highly political lyricist, in 1979 penning a song titled Zimbabwe calling for Zimbabwe’s liberation from England. The next year he played in Zimbabwe in celebration of their independence. (biography.com, 2014)
That same year he released Redemption Song that many believed was based upon Marcus Garvey’s 1938 speech, ‘The Work That Has Been Done’. Redemption Song cannot be fully comprehended without the context of Marcus Garvey’s speech which encompasses at its heart the necessity to think as free people stating “Whatever that has happened to the man it is his own mind that puts him there.“ (Garvey,1938 as cited in henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com, 2010).
At the same time Marley was battling cancer. In the Rolling Stone website (2014), photographer Dennis Morris presents photos of Marley, displaying one titled Redemption Song. Morris reports that in the photo Marley is playing Redemption Song and that he was privileg…
…m mental slavery: The origin and meaning behind Bob Marley’s Redemption song.
Retrieved from http://henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/redemption-song/
biography.com. (2014). Bob Marley: Biograpghy. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/bob-marley-9399524.
Playing For Change. (2011). Redemption Song | Play For Change. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55s3T7VRQSc
ReggaeMusic. (2012). 15. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Redemption Song [Dortmund 1980]. http://youtu.be/vLbK_fw7904
rock.rapgenius.com. (2014) Bob Marley – Redemption Song Lyrics. Retrieved from http://rock.rapgenius.com/Bob-marley-redemption-song-lyrics
Wenner, J.S. (2014) Bob Marley: The Stories Behind 17 Rare and Unseen Images. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/bob-marley-the-stories-behind-17-rare-and-unseen-images-20140325/0537942#ixzz2yw4n0HUp