Today would have been Bob Marley's 66th birthday. And while he's no longer here in flesh, Marley's songs of freedom are more urgent than ever. Just last week his very last live concert—in 1980 at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh—was released as a double album called Live Forever. It's a perfect title because that's exactly what Bob Marley's music does. Of all his great performances, none was more memorable than his 1978 "One Love Peace Concert," at which Marley managed to bring together Jamaica's biggest political rivals, Prime Minister Michael Manley and Opposition Leader Edward Seaga, on stage together in a powerful symbol of unity that, like Marley himself, was tragically short-lived. His spellbinding dance during "Natty Dread" looks like he's chasing evil spirits off the stage. Everything that follows is a dramatic demonstration of the spiritual power of music. Let it go...
BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS "NATTY DREAD" LIVE AT THE ONE LOVE PEACE CONCERT 1978
BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS "JAMMIN" LIVE AT THE ONE LOVE PEACE CONCERT 1978
Bob Marley's musical offspring have carried on their father's works. Kymani Marley recently featured on "Rasta Love," the new single by the Jamaican artist Protoje. Julian Marley did a tough tune the other day called "Violence In The Streets." Nas and Damian Marley recently returned to Bob's old Trenchtown neighborhood to shoot their latest video. And Stephen, Damian and Buju just put together a wicked tune called "Jah Army." (Many of the Marley brothers will be performing March 12 in Miami at the 18th Annual 9 Mile Festival.) But no song symbolizes the Marley family's sense of purpose better than this Jam2 production: "The Mission." Run that...
STEPHEN MARLEY & DAMIAN MARLEY "THE MISSION" 2006
Bob Marley always wanted to reach beyond Jamaica and touch listeners all over the world. "Play I on the R&B," he sang on one of his biggest chart hits "Roots, Rock, Reggae," a song that reflected the reality that reggae music was embraced by rock radio before black radio caught up with the beat. But Bob needn't have worried about a thing. During the big closing number of this 1999 Tribute Concert, it was more than clear just how far-reaching Bob Marley's influence has been, spreading from genre to genre, generation to generation. (There are so many stars on the stage, the camera man literally cannot figure out where to point his lens: Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, Dr. John, Ben Harper, Jimmy Cliff, Toots Hibbert, Queen Latifah, Chrissie Hynde, Darius Rucker, Tracy Chapman, and of course a whole heap of Marley family members.) Singing covers of Bob Marley songs is always a tricky matter. It's hard to improve on Marley's intensity, so artists sometimes resort to stunts and gimmicks. But in these memorable versions of two of Bob's most powerful songs, Lauryn Hill and Ziggy bring it back to all Bob ever had: these songs of freedom.
BOB MARLEY feat LAURYN HILL "TURN YOUR LIGHTS DOWN LOW"
LAURYN HILL & ZIGGY MARLEY "REDEMPTION SONG" 1999