Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The recent Bob Marley live album MAY be Worth It.
Oddly enough, Surfing in Babylon has never really considered Mr. Marley, even though he's a cornerstone of the Babylon Symbol Repertory. This PopMatters review does little to correct that, but it may provide food for future thought, if indeed Surfing in Babylon ever gets back to studying Babylon songs. Sample paragraphs:
And for those who’d complain that Marley sings everything the same way—well, that’s sort of the point. He delivers the tender “No Woman No Cry” with the same stern deliberation he gives the militant rhetoric in “War”. “No Woman” is maybe a little more legato, but the briskly enunciated “cornmeal porridge” line and the chanted “everything is gonna be alright” belong to the same worldview as H.I.M. Haile Selassie’s powerful “War” speech. You buy Marley’s messages of hope because they don’t turn him all lovey-dovey. He remains a clear-eyed revolutionary, a powerful dude you don’t wanna mess with even when his lyrics and band are giving you a musical hug.
Marley’s straightforward messages gain depth through juxtaposition in the setlist. “Everywhere is war” is one thing, but it becomes something else butted up against “we don’t need no trouble; what we need is love”. And that medley becomes something else again as a prelude to “Zimbabwe”, a call for armed revolution in the African nation. Six months before this show, the revolutionary leader Robert Mugabe had been elected prime minister of Zimbabwe, and the song sounds like a thoughtful celebration. 30 years later, Mugabe has a reputation for incompetence and brutality, but Marley’s songs sound as true as ever. The lesson for you kids: write songs, protest, but don’t go into politics. Seriously, have you looked at the news lately? EVERYWHERE is war.