Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bob Marley Movie a Winner

A week or so ago, my oldest son, a musician, invited me to see the movie Marley, a documentary about Bob Marley and the Wailers.  We went, and I'm so glad I did.  (Marley and I almost have the same hair, after all.) The man and his music are imbedded in my mind this week - if I sing the chorus of "No Woman No Cry" one more time I am going to drive myself crazy.  (One of my top five great songs of all time, by the way.)  I highly recommend this movie - there is so much more to Marley and his music than what we have been told.  Westerners have been sold a pre-packaged, pot-smoking, dread-locked cult leader who developed reggae through a haze of marijuana while fathering multiple children with different mothers on the side.  That is selling him way, way short.  In fact, browsing Youtube for some interviews about Marley in the 1970's, he was presented as a bizarre creature who made Jamaicans wild with his "revolutionary reggae beat."

My son has been asking me to get to know Bob Marley's biography and his music for some time, and I have always resisted, afraid, I guess, to support him in any way in my son's mind.  I was imagining the Marley listed above - I judged without knowing.  Bob Marley was, in fact, a shy but determined outsider (his father was white and mother black, making him an immediate outsider) who followed strict Rastafarian laws (Rastafarianism is the worshiping of the King of Ethiopia Haile Salassi as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ) and played and wrote music ceaselessly that demanded change in his country.  He was almost assassinated at one time, and in an historic free concert quelled violence in the street by joining the leaders of the two opposing political parties together on stage for a handshake (and a hug; Marley was thrilled and wrapped an arm around each one as the people, hungry for peace and any measure of prosperity, cheered and cried.)  Marley had become a voice for change in a world that initially shunned him.  And he wanted peace.  Such an over-used phrase, but still beautiful in it's actual meaning - peace for all people.  Did he smoke pot?  Sure.  But it was used as a sacrament, and went along with some pretty strict Rastafai laws - the women were to wear no make-up and dresses in the Nazarite way, and the men were to treat the body as a temple and stay fit and in pursuit of happiness and peace. They were looking for Jah.

I am much different from Marley, but see a lot of beauty in his life.  And I'm proud, now, that my son thinks of him as a great inflence in music and in life.  Me too.

 One love.

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