To have a music category here on Silicon Palms and not mention Bob Marley, would be a massive mistake and an error by omission, since he’s the most important musician of my life. No other artist has touched me in the same way, and I don’t feel as though my appreciation of reggae and Bob Marley lyrics is overzealous. No other artist or rock star effected me in the same way, from an early age I started questioning the authority figures in our world and thinking about the truth of his words. Especially the verse about freeing ourselves from mental slavery….
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
‘Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look? Ooh
Some say it’s just a part of it
We’ve got to fulfill the Book
~ from Redemption Song by Bob Marley
It seems rather odd that a white middle class teenager would have had struggles with to compare with a poor black man living in a ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica called Trenchtown. I am still reminded of some of the hardest days of my life, when I hear Bob Marley my memory can recall the time I lived in the Arctic in Northern Canada. When I was a teenager I was lured away by the prospect of earning money in the oilfields of the far north and decided to quit high school to go chase after my fortune. The Alaska highway was the road that led to the oil and gas line construction and when I was 18 I found myself in a dead-end job, working full-time at first then the company downsized and put laborers on part-time. To make matters worse I experienced violence in a bar-fight, plus had a run-in with the cops and was charged with possession of marijuana. Not a great start to adulthood.
During the hard times of my teenage trials and tribulations in the great white north of BC, I missed the first family Christmas of my life, was subsisting on part time work, had been charged with a misdemeanor crime while stuck living in the northern-most town in British Columbia, where the average outdoor temperature during winter was about 20 below zero. A amazing things happened, that would only be evident as significant to my growth to me, many years later. First I found a friend that introduced me to martial arts and Bob Marley, he’d listen to the music and teach me stretching for karate and techniques of jujitsu while listening to the same couple of albums, over and over. His passion was explaining the lyrics of Bob Marley and describing the styles of Benny the Jet, or Chuck Norris (who he resembled), as they were early MMA (mixed martial arts) champions, back in the 1970’s and early 80’s.
At the time I didn’t understand the true meaning of Bob Marley’s music but I was hooked on his vibration, right from the first beat. My winter of discontent ended and I drove my pickup truck back down south, close to the U.S. border, where I spent the most adventure filled, hot summer. A couple of decades later I would become the webmaster for the Bob Marley Movement, which was an online fan club that had spawned from the actual, original; “Bob Marley Movement of Jah People” (fan club), started by Bob himself. Yep, I was working directly with the family, including his mother and brother. I visited many times, the house where Bob Marley lived in Miami. Working for Bob Marley was the most satisfying job of my life because by mid to late 30’s I’d seen enough of the world and Bob Marley’s influence on it, via his pop-culture icon everywhere I traveled. Plus, by this time in my life, the meaning to his songs had sunk in.
To this day, I feel the Rasta man vibration.
Photo credit: Matthew Cachia on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC
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