So I had to get on the grind this morning around 7. I’m always up by 7, but I don’t like to go straight into whatever work I have. I’d prefer to watch some SportsCenter, snack on a lil somethin, maybe even sneak a game or five of PlayStation in. Not today–deadline was early, so it was time to take the machine up to my office and get to grindin (when I have time to work with, I work from the couch).
So what do you listen to when working at 7 in the morning? I usually listen to something crunk in the shower, anything from that new Banner (fire) to old Black Sabbath. Just to get things going, yanno?
But Baba had to think…so it was Bob Marley. Was in a Marley mood, anyway. Not one of the mellow moods he sang about, thank you. Just a Marley mood. Bob is good for working because he’s chill but frequently energetic. Anyway, looking at my playlist of a hundred or so songs, I decided to finally try to list my ten favorite Bob Marley songs. The albums are listed in parentheses.
This is gonna be hard.
10. Redemption Song (Uprising). Look, I know this has got a lot of quotes that look great on T-shirts, but this is not the dopest Marley song ever. It might be his most representative song–something particularly fitting considering it was, I believe, the last song he performed in concert–but best? Not quite, baby.
9. Misty Morning (Kaya). I wish more band directors were into reggae. The trombone section at Southern, PV, or FAMU needs to handle this one.
8. Is This Love (Kaya). Whenever I’m loopy for somebody, this song is the one that’ll pop in my head. One problem, though–now that I’m not in college, you won’t catch me gettin’ busy in a single bed ever again. Six-foot-four, baby. Too tall for all of that. They can come ride down the hill on this sleight…if they’re sane enough to handle knowing where I live.
7. Wake Up and Live (Survival). Funky as hell. If you’re not up on this one, check it out.
6. I Shot the Sheriff/Get Up, Stand Up (Burnin’). First two songs on “Burnin’,” and it’s nearly impossible to separate one from the other. For real, sit down one day with the bass up as high as is tolerable, turn down the treble, and just listen to the bottom on “Sheriff.” My brother once said this might be the best instrumental of the Marley catalog, and he might be right. Oh yeah, and I would kill to write anything half as good as either song. As for “Get Up, Stand Up,” it doesn’t get much more incendiary. Well, until you get to “Burnin’ and Lootin’” on the same album.
5. I Know (Confrontation). One of those posthumous releases that just makes you mad at the universe, if you get me drift.
4. Concrete Jungle (Catch a Fire). I have no idea what to say. If you need to hear it, lemme know.
3. Zimbabwe/Africa Unite (Survival). I’ve always viewed these songs as separate stanzas of the same thing. “Africa Unite” proves that we can shake our asses and get liberated at the same time. Here’s the thing about “Zimbabwe”–that song has remained timely for the last quarter-century. Know what that is? A damn shame.
2. Johnny Was (Rastaman Vibration). Almost the predecessor to Organized Konfusion’s “Stray Bullet.” The band is so fierce, Bob takes on a slightly different voice than we’re accustomed to, and it’s ridiculously powerful.
1. No Woman, No Cry (Legend, Live, Natty Dread). Again, some songs are loved by everyone for a reason. Absolutely flawless, particularly the seven minute live version that’s on the Tuff Gong version of Legend. If your version of Legend has the Island logo on the disc, you’re seriously getting cheated with short versions of this and “Exodus,” and you also don’t get “Easy Skanking.” Take it back and get a refund. Chris Blackwell should get flogged for that.
Am I missing songs? Of course. I’d probably make a different list if I did this fifteen minutes before I did it. Here are some honorable mentions, though. And feel free to put your suggestions in the comments, btw.
Iron Lion Zion
Lively Up Yourself
No More Trouble
Turn Your Lights Down Low
Burnin’ and Lootin’
Forever Loving Jah