In this one-of-a-kind collection, edited by Gerald Hausman and with an introduction by Cedella Marley, the words of reggae legend Bob Marley are brought together as a testament to the deeply felt and powerfully motivated sense of spirit of the revered singer-songwriter and performer who helped spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafarian movement across the world.
The texts, many unpublished in book form, were gathered at 56 Hope Road, Kingston, Jamaica, where Bob lived and worked in the 1970s. He would go on to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a United Nations Medal of Peace. Marley’s compilation album Legend is one of the bestselling recordings of all time, going platinum ten times in the United States and selling twenty million copies worldwide.
Bob Marley’s wisdom came not only through his songs but also from his poetic, spoken words. The short selections in this book, which are compiled from interviews he gave over the years, will give readers a true sense of who Bob Marley really was and are bound to inspire them with his timeless message of faith, unity, and love.
“It’s Bob, as he was, as he is, as he will always be, talking personally to you.”
from the editor’s note
“My father spoke plain and simple words, the least tricky of all. These came from Proverbs in the Bible and also the folk sayings of the people of Jamaica. . . . He was wise beyond education, beyond information.”
from the introduction
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GERALD HAUSMAN is the editor of The Kebra Nagast: The Lost Bible of Rastafarian Wisdom and Faith from Ethiopia and Jamaica and is widely consulted as an expert on Caribbean folklore, Native American studies, and Rastafarian culture. He has been honored by the American Folklore Society, the New York Public Library, the Jamaican Ministry of Education, Bank Street College of Education, and many other organizations.
CEDELLA MARLEY, daughter and first child of Bob and Rita Marley, is the C.E.O. of Tuff Gong International and the mother of three children. She is the author of the children’s books One Love, Every Little Thing, and The Boy from Nine Miles. Cedella is a three-time Grammy Award–winning singer with her brothers, Ziggy and Steve, and her sister, Sharon, in the group the Melody Makers. When not writing and performing, Cedella also helps run the family’s charitable organization, 1Love.
I have always been involved with a hard type of living. My father I never even knew. My mother did domestic work for thirty shillings a week. We had to fight hard. Jamaica a university for the whole world; a place where the truth may be revealed. But money in Jamaica is like a piece of fat riding the people’s heart. I don’t work for money. I have no desire to be a superstar. I just do what God tell me to do. If there’s anything me have to do, me a go do it. Me like meself better when I just sing. More than trying to sing. Singing something real, you don’t sing it; you really see it and you mean it. So you don’t have no sweet way to sing it. You could almost talk it.
The teacher, she say, “Who can talk, talk; who can make anything, make; who can sing, sing!” And me sing. There are those who play music for kicks. I am not the kind of artist who plays for kicks. I do not go out of my way to do another’s song. You see, me don’t believe in trend or fashion. What people call soul music. To me, soul music is music that talk about truth. It must have a human story to the song relating a real-life situation.
Every time I play I get that fresh inspiration. So if somebody try to catch up with we, we can leave and change again. Because that’s what we been doing over the years. Every time that we make some music, they catch up with we. So we change. Just like ska, rock steady, reggae. If them come too much and call it reggae, we go to nyabinghi music, the first music. That mean death to black and white oppressors. But that type of music, it come from the heart. Every time you hear drums, you hear it. Sometimes soft, sometimes frightening. You get to know it. Like when I first hear Rasta drumming. I think it’s something terrible going to do with me. Because it’s something that we no understand. And yet it’s so near to me and then we get to understand and everything become natural again.
Rastafari means head creator--God. Mind you, everyone has a different conception of God. He said, “Every knee shall bow and tongue confess, and no stone shall be left unturned.” That means whatever your color or race, you will have to confess to His Imperial Majesty, God, Allah. Thank God, we are past the worst. You see, the song comes through inspiration. Then it comes out on paper. But it’s someone tell me that. Inspiration come from Jah. It’s Jah tell you we past the worst. Is not me tell you we past the worst.
Rasta is all things. Justice, love, peace to all mankind. The God who make I and I, Him create technicolor people and Him make earth and all resources. Yes, pressure is there. And all these things. But which way true? How can you get true? The only truth is Rastafari and commandments that are made by God. Judgment catch you. Because the majority thing that is happening is judgment. A real innocent man, I don’t think anything can happen to him. God make a prophecy: those who Him love are those who love Him.
I don’t want to write if I don’t have no vision. God can give it and he can take it back. Can take you with it, too. I grew up to be a Rastaman. When I wasn’t a Rasta, I was only growing. Everyone is searching for something. Maybe all growth is a direction of where you go and find it. But everyone search for it. When I search and find, it was Rasta. Then I notice I was Rasta from ever since. The way of life is what I seek for a long time. Not in the sense of eating and clothes but in the sense of natural spiritual living and togetherness. I never liked the church because they always fighting against one another. So I must find a different way. Or if I can’t find that, God no there. So--when I find Rastafari, I say, yes!
God do everything the way Him want to do it. And there’s plenty we don’t have to understand. The cycles of time. You know, time a change. Because Jah is the greatest chess player in the world. When you have people who think a prejudice way, them take the God out of the world. There is no prejudice. You have right and wrong. The right thing to do is positive. If me hate you, there is something wrong with me. You can’t go to Zion, I can’t go to Zion that way. I have to love you. Still, I might not do things the same way as you do them. But I have to keep all the hate out of me. Because you can’t go to Zion with hate.
I don’t come down on you with blood and fire, earthquake and lightning, but you must know that within me all of that exist too. . . . You can just imagine if everyone on earth did have one day where we just put all our minds together regardless where the force is, as long as it’s positive, and just meditate for even an hour that day. And just live nice with them nice meditation. I mean, now, the climate would be nice, the smog would a leave.
After a while I start to think, well, there’s work to be done. I must deal with this music God has given me and so this music can carry me. So me say, okay, earthquake can come. But if God send me out, Him never shake no earthquake upon me. So it’s not that fate that me a trouble with.
Daily, minutely, hourly Rastas pray, you see. Praying is just talk and when you talk, every word you say must be acceptable in front of God.
Let the word of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable.
So you don’t lead a different life and then come to prayer. You make sure you pray continually, so that every word you say, God agree with it. That is prayers. And there’s another prayer where you go to some quiet place. And another prayer where your whole heart start praying through your mouth. When you live Rasta, everything must turn to peace and love. Togetherness and helpful: a righteousness.
We make the moon and stars shine and the climate get better because people cause everything--God’s people do it, mankind. Then we have plenty of wheat and corn. And mankind just cool upon the earth. Me love farming. Me want to live upon a farm later. Me no really want to live in a flat and go to a club every night and come back, then do it again.
If you’re in the country at night, when the rain fall it’s best, you know. All you hear is the rain play music on the leaves--rtttt rtttt. Yeah, that life is sweet. You can tell before the rain, the fowl get excited and oil up them feather.
You see me here? The first thing you must know about me is that I always stand for what I stand for. The second thing you must know about yourself listening to me is that words are very tricky. So when you know what me stand for, when me explain a thing to you, you must never try to look upon it in a different way than what me stand for.
Waiting in Vain” . . . nice tune, mon. From long time back. It’s for people who never dig the Wailers from long time because they just couldn’t relate. So what I do now with a tune like “Waiting in Vain,” them might like it, and wonder what a go on.
I really get the recharge from Ethiopia. Because that song “Zimbabwe” come straight from Ethiopia. I write it in a land called Shashamane. So you can say, it’s a full recharge. And when the song come out--it just happen. So you can imagine if it was Ethiopia you wrote all your songs, then nearly every song you write would happen. Then, maybe, somebody would say, “Boy, he is a prophet!”
They say Second Coming is at hand. The time is coming when everything will be revealed. Rastafari said he’d return in two thousand years. And it’s been one thousand, nine hundred and seventy-seven. If Rastafari allows me to, I’ll still be alive.
My future is in a green part of the earth. Big enough me can roam freely. I don’t feel Jamaica gonna be the right place. Need somewhere new. Ethiopia. Adventure. You could start live. I suffered all this our life . . . need some adventure. Africa big enough. Jamaica little small island, you know. When I feel that the job has been done that I and I have been sent to do, I and I pack it up. When I feel satisfied and when Jah tells me that I am finished with this work--it might be the end of the American visit or the English visit--I will know that. When as many people as possible have heard what we have to say.
The vampires--most people are negative out there but Rasta people think positive. Most people in Babylon want power. Devil want power. God don’t want power. But devil need power, ’cause devil insecure.
We is what we is. We supply the way and prophecy run it. That in this time now, we come to our heritage of culture, our ancient culture on earth. As it was in the beginning, so it shall be in the end. Only thing that can make you survive is to know the truth, and the truth is that God say Him give man everlasting life, which means everliving life.
Me say me life here--this flesh--me have to live. Me never say there was no fear of death, but me no deal with death. Me no have time to risk this flesh too much ’cause it’s this me has to do it in. The spirit is stronger than the flesh, which means the flesh is nothing for the spirit to carry. That means there’s a way to live--a way, man, it can be done. That’s where Rastafari come in. Because everyone else preach that when you die, you go to heaven. No, I don’t like that one. ’Cause if when I dead, I go to heaven, then where was I before I am? If heaven’s the right place (where I was before I am), then I should have stayed there.
Sometimes Jah show you things before they happen. That’s what happen before them go shoot the place up. Me have a dream where me hear plenty gunshot. And then, the same thing happen. A vision, yeah. That was a lucky thing. Me just stand upon the place. My feelings at the time? Can’t tell you. I wasn’t even there. There was a struggle. And then me didn’t know what happen. But I’ll tell you during the time it happen, a real mystic come in. Plenty Jah guide I and protect. The gunmen? Caught? So them say. I know them couldn’t shoot the prime minister and just disappear, though. But it’s all right. Me don’t want them found now.
My mother is a spiritual singer, like a gospel singer. I think that is where I hear singing first. Me start sing. Then me write. Me play instrument. I’m a self-taught guitar player. Me don’t have a religion. Just a natural thing you’re supposed to have. With reggae now you’re getting a three-in-one music: a happy rhythm with a sad sound. Good vibration. Earth rhythm. Roots. Me love all music, you know. But rock music really calls for neon lights. Plenty lights. See, a good reggae music now, you could be anywhere. You could be in the hills. I just try to be natural, relying on inspirations. I have many more years of music in me. Many people think reggae music will end soon. But this music is Rasta music, and therefore has no end.
Too much people have too much thing to say--and they don’t know anything.
I don’t stray from my roots and my roots is God. But I understand that a man can be dead in his flesh, but his spirit still lives. I respect my flesh and I know my spirit, and know what it’s like. I don’t believe in death in flesh or in spirit. Preservation is the gift of God. The gift of God is life. The wages of sin is death. When a man does wickedness, he’s gone out there and dead.
Death does not exist for me. I truly know God. He gives me this life. And why should he take it back? Only the devil says that everybody has to die. The only thing that can make you survive is to know the truth. And the truth is that God say Him give man everlasting life, everliving life.
I deal with one I. Instead of you, it’s I. If you go down the street, you see a guy get hurt, you feel it right away . . . know what I mean? That’s why me don’t like see it. Me feel it. Sometime even more than him, the person who get it. Me personally is a man who is nothing without the inspiration of Jah. God is my father and him grow me just the way his son is supposed to be grown. Him don’t give me anything where, when I get it, I can’t control it. Me get it just in time, and me grow. The perfect father for me.
Music can carry you anywhere. So it may as well carry you to heaven--to Zion. Instead of carrying you all about or to some places you don’t know. We need positive vibrations. You cannot be ignorant. Can’t have prejudice, because we leave our judgment unto Jah. Want to cut the negative thing out entirely. It’s what your mouth say keep you alive. It’s what your mouth say kill you. And the greatest thing is life. It’s a thing where Jah put you through now. Weed out most of the devils. Overcome the devils with a thing called love.
If you’re right, you’re right. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. If you never knew this, you would never be complete. You would never know good from bad. But it’s not only good to know good. It’s better to know the both of them--good and bad. That way you can know what is what. You can’t go through the world and pretend. Sometimes you must get militant. Load and shoot and defend your right as a people: in the midst of peace and love. Or in a system that is wrong, even if a prison sentence fall on you, we must come together quick. Get it? And that is it.
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