#87, "Redemption Song," Bob Marley (1980)

I've been dreading this write up for a couple of reasons. First, it's an uninspired pick. Everyone loves this song of course, it's a classic. Also I am bothered by how in the late 90s reggae was co-opted by frat boys and the Legend picture of Bob Marley became a dorm room staple. That's gross. 


Second, have you seen the Marley documentary? It was released in 2012 and I can't recommend it because it left a very long, very lasting bad taste in my mouth. Bob Marley wasn't good to the women in his life. 


Also my context for loving this song is very specific to my experience. Reggae was everywhere in Hawaii in the 80s and 90s to the extent where I almost resented it before I fully understood it. As a teenager when I was getting into ska and learning the history of ska and reggae, I began to love it and particularly the Legend Collection as well as other compilations from his early, suit-wearing days. 


But goddamn if I don't really and truly love this song to my core. It's a song about history, mortality, and self-reflection. It's beautifully done. In producing the album on which it originally appeared, they recorded two versions, one with just Bob on the acoustic guitar and one with the full band, with the intention that they'd use the full band version. Because the acoustic solo version was so powerful in its simplicity, it was the version that ended up on the album. It was also the final song last album he released before he died. Shit, man. 


I love the Joe Strummer cover of it. LOVE IT. It was posthumously released on his FINAL album with the Mescaleros, likely recorded in the same spirit Bob Marley did. I can only recommend giving it a listen if you want to barf from sadness.