“One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain” – Bob Marley
I had a conversation about music last night that discussed the difference between “blowing people away with musicality and creativeness” and “finding your voice and expressing yourself”. Although the two things are not mutually exclusive it’s evident that those who combine both elements of breaking musical ground with their own expressive voice have a tendency to have a greater impact culturally.
Yet still, the message behind the song has as much impact as the music itself.
Marley, who died in May of 1981 after a battle with cancer, would’ve been 70 today – yet even today his message and legacy live on even to the youth of this generation. The most followed deceased entertainer, with over 70 million Facebook followers, Marley continues to resonate with people of all ages.
You can hear “400 Years” still blaring from hazy university dorm rooms, those reaching old age will still be “Jammin'” on a Caribbean cruise, and a youth in West Africa will soak in every word and inflection and interpret the messages of peace and unity in their own way. This only speaks to the point that although the likes of John Lennon, Mick Jagger, or Bono may claim to be the most recognized musician of all time – it is by far Bob Marley, without question.
Although the fire his world-wide fame and acclaim defiantly was stoked after the release (and subsequent releases) of the 1984 “best of” Legend, and then breached into branded products like T-shirts, energy drinks, posters, coffee mugs, and (of course) cannabis products, the music and the message still stand independently as both relevant and powerful.
Bob Marley, the farm boy from rural Jamacian via Trenchtown has reached, in death as much as life, the downtrodden, the oppressed, and the stepped upon, as well as the wealthy, cultured, and privileged, with music and messages that touches them all independently.
From an outsiders perspective, if I only do one thing in life touches one other person I’d consider that a life well lived – Bob Marley, has the 15-year old girl in the suburbs singing “One Love”, and millions more around the globe shouting “Get Up, Stand Up”. He has the 50-year old executive in an office tower escaping his stresses with “Don’t Rock My Boat”, while lovers in Italy still swoon to “Is This Love?” From China, to Oklahoma, from Argentina, to Israel, this is a man that still truly unites us all, no matter our stripes.
Happy Birthday, Bob