Beyond the Legend: The Official Multimedia Bob Marley Primer
By Aliya S. King
During the weekend of what would have been Robert “Nesta” Marley’s 71st birthday, it’s a good moment to reflect on the man and his music. But that means going further than listening to Legend, the greatest hits album that’s sold over thirty million units since its release in 1984. Yes, Legend is an amazing album and the 2012 reissue with added tracks makes it an even more essential body of work to own. But it’s not the full breadth of who Marley was and what he meant to the world. For that, you’ll have to go deeper. (And while there are lots of links to check out, you’ll have to actually turn off your device and read a book too.) Pay homage to Marley the right way—by hearing his words straight from his mouth and those who knew him and his music best.
7. Listen to Sinead O’Connor Use His Music To Court Controversy.
In 1992, Irish musician Sinead O’Connor found herself placed on the list of people banned from Saturday Night Live after a live performance. Onstage, in an unscripted moment, O’Connor ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II to bring attention to the issue of child abuse in the Catholic Church. The song she performed directly before this controversial act? She did a cover of Bob Marley’s 1976 song “War” from the album Rastaman Vibration. Note: The lyrics to the song are lifted from Haile Selassie’s 1963 speech at the United Nations.
6. Listen to The Fugees’ cover of No Woman No Cry.
Although Wyclef Jean is Haitian, not Jamaican, he does a fitting Marley turn on this classic track from The Fugeees’ legendary 1996 album, The Score. Band member Lauryn Hill’s appearance foreshadowed another Marley connection—she would become the mother of five of Bob Marley’s grandchildren through her coupling with Marley’s son Rohan Marley.
5. Never Saw Bob Marley Live? Correct That.
Although Marley passed in 1981, there are several full live concerts you can watch in their entirety. One of the best: his November 1979 show in Santa Barbara, California as part of the Survival tour.
4. Pay Tribute To Kaya, the Marley Album Named After His Favorite, Ahem, Pastime.
IF it’s legal in your state…. and IF you’re of legal age…you can visit your local dispensary and buy one of four strains of Marley Natural, the official marijuana brand of the Marley estate.
3. Listen To Marley In His Own Words
Noted African American journalist Gil Noble interviewed Marley in Jamaica, just a few months before his death. The wide-ranging interview touches on his birth and early life, his upbringing and what inspired him to become a musician.
2. Watch Obama Note Marley’s Influence On Him
Interviewed by MTV’s Sway Calloway during the 2012 campaign, Obama credits Marley with raising his awareness on international political activism. (Obama would go on to make an unannounced visit to the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston while visiting the country in 2015.)
1. Absorb The Ultimate Story
Download or purchase a physical copy of Catch A Fire by Timothy White. The ultimate biography of Bob Marley goes far beyond his life as a musician and examines his successes as a husband as well as his flaws. White, a journalist who interviewed Marley several times throughout his life, donated all the proceeds from the book to children’s foundations Marley contributed to during his lifetime. So you’ll not only learn about Marley, you’ll be making a direct tribute in his name—a more than fitting birthday present.
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