The Cultural and Human Elements of the Great Bob Marley’s Music One of the elements of being human in Bob Marley’s life was his religious beliefs in Rastafarianism and the way it influenced his music. Social justice issues, social classes, dialect, the government and economic systems of Jamaica are some of the cultural elements that were a great part of Bob Marley’s music, along with his faith, that helped inspired countless of his musical achievements. In addition to, he weaved these elements together to create his music, his style. In his music, there are various human elements that come into play throughout his legendary life that support the all mighty question: What does it mean to be human? Rastafarian theology developed from the ideas of Marcus Garvey, a political activist who wanted to improve the status of fellow blacks, according to the BBC. It began to spread globally in the 1970’s due to the fame and music of Bob Marley, who actively and faithfully, preached Rastafarian into his music.
In the song, ‘Get Up, Stand Up’, which deals with the Rastafarian faith, has become an anthem for sufferers everywhere. As Bob Marley was quoted in ‘Catch a Fire’ saying “Facts an’ facts, an’ t’ings an’ t’ings: dem’s all a lotta fockin’ bullshit. Hear me! Dere is no truth, an’ that is de truth of Jah Rastafari.” This is an example of one of the cultural and human elements of religion that had an impact on his music. Macias 2 The struggles of the urban poor in Jamaica and third world countries are represented in the song ‘Concrete Jungle’, where it represents the poverty and tension found in any ghetto, as Casey Gane-McCalla wrote in ‘NewsOne for Black America’ This illustrates the elements of the different social classes we have, which, Bob Marley was a voice for the lower class and rude boys alike.
In addition to, he sang about the poverty and the drastic wealth inequality between the rich and the poor in both Jamaica and the world, and about the tension and conflicts this generates in the song ‘Belly Full’. Most of Bob Marley’s songs are written and sung in Patois, an English Dialect spoken in the British Caribbean, mainly in the island of Jamaica. This human and cultural element of language is culture specific to the island of Jamaica since humans diffused and collaborated various languages to form the dialect of Patois. In a 1975 interview by Karl Dallas with Bob Marley, he stated, “No, he can’t unnerstand that,” he says in an aside to Taylor. “That’s a patois. It’s not straight English you can write. Sometimes we sing in patois.” I believe, as well as Bob Marley, that music is a universal language that the artist definitely uses to express themselves in ways only they can through their music. There are many musicians expressing their beliefs, visions, lifestyles, etc… in a dialect that their audience can comprehend through the music they put together for the world to appreciate, as the great Bob Marley did.
As Mrs. Judy Garlan White commented on The Notes of New Edition in ‘Catch a Fire – The Life of Bob Marley’ authored by Timothy White ‘…this sadness has been tempered by the fact that their voices not only do reverberate but often seem to be getting louder – Bob Marley’s through the vast, growing reach and messages of his music, Timothy White’s through the timeless eloquence and truth of his Macias 3 words.’ The cultural and human aspects of language, even from those that have passed, still have an impact on people’s lives today. In the article ‘Bob Marley: The Man and The Legend’, author Greg Dorsey wrote, “Could You Be Loved was written by Bob Marley as a result of him witnessing the terrible Jamaican school system, people living in poverty, and a multitude of circumstances which caused the oppression of both the Jamaican and African people.
In the line, “Don’t let them fool you or even try to school you” Marley is writing about how the Jamaican school systems have a policy that says shoes must be worn in school. Many families in Jamaica cannot afford shoes, which prohibits the children from attending school and receiving an education. In the next line the song says don’t let them fool you. This section may be speaking about the lessons taught in school. Outdated history books teach Jamaican children a biased history that neglects to teach about slavery and fails to show where Jamaicans are from. Teaching practices such as these take away the peoples identity and their pride”. Bob Marley’s view of education by the Jamaican public schools was very unfavorable. The frustration of being uneducated and having few chances for advancement in life is evident in the music of Bob Marley. He expressed his frustrations, along with his love of his people and his goals through his music.
This cultural element of Government is yet another example of how it shaped his music. Throughout his musical career, Bob Marley consistently used human and cultural elements to write his lyrics. He was curious about his people and land so he observed and recorded what was going on around him and related those observations in his works of music. He reflected, interpreted and investigated his society along with his homeland to bring a unique style that was Macias 4 reflected in his music, thus, capturing various human and cultural elements along the way. He relayed to the world what was really occurring in Jamaica, in addition to being the ‘poster boy’ to the religion of Rastafarian. All of these aspects of Bob Marley is, in my opinion, what being human is all about.
Macias 5 Works Cited Page
BBC Religion, 2nd Oct. 2009, Web
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/rastafari/ataglance/glance.shtml Gane – McCalla, Casey “Top 10 Most Politically Significant Bob Marley Songs”, Web, http://newsone.com/1224855/top-10-most-politically-significant-bob-marley-songs/ 11th May 2011 Dallas, Karl; http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2012/apr/17/bob-marley-interview 17th April 2012 White, Timothy. Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley. New York: St Martin’s Griffin, 2000. Print. Dorsey, Greg M. “Bob Marley: The Man and The Legend.” The Dread Library, Apr. 1998. Web. 29th Jan. 2014 http://debate.uvm.edu/dreadlibrary/dorsey.html
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