Robert Nesta Marley

Date of Birth:

Feb. 6, 1945

Date of Death:

May 11, 1981


Nine, Mile, St. Ann, Jamaica

Occupational Titles:

Singer/Songwriter and Musician


Reggae, Rocksteady, Ska


Guitar and Percussion


The Wailers (1964-1974) Bob Marley and the Wailers (1974-1981)

Bob Marley, was a legendary Jamaican singer, songwriter and guitarist. He came to an untimely death due to cancer in 1981 at the age of 36. He was born in 1945 to British naval Captain Norval Marley and a young Jamaican girl named Cedalla Booker, in the home of his Jamaican grandfather. Soon after his birth, Bob’s father left his mother, but contributed financially, occasionally returning to see his son. In the late fifties, as jobs were scarce Bob and his mother left their rural St. Ann home to seek employment in the larger Trenchtown in West Kingston. Trenchtown was built over a ditch which drained the sewage of old Kingston. It was here that Bob met long time friends and later band members, Nevill Livingstone or Bunny and Peter Macintosh. At age 16, music became the focus and love of Bob’s life, providing an escape from the harshness of everyday life. (bobmarley)

Bob, Bunny and some other friends formed the Wailing Wailers, eventually recording their first song “Simmer Down” which did quite well in Jamaica. Bob married Rita Anderson in 1966 and visited his mother, now living in the United States, to work and earn money to better finance his music. Soon returning home, Bob took on the role of the leader and main songwriter, with a resulting expansion of the Wailers’ audience, throughout the Caribbean. However, they were still internationally unknown. Bob and the Wailers ended up broke and stranded in London in the same year and in desperation went to Island Records where Chris Blackwell signed them on the spot advancing funds to fly back to Jamaica where they recorded the album “Catch a Fire” which was well received as a first reggae album. (sing365)

They returned to London for a 3 month British tour in 1973 and onto the US for 17 shows with Sly and the Family Stone. They were fired for being too popular, going from Las Vegas to San Francisco, boosting their popularity in North America. In the 1973 release of the Burnin’ album, Marley became the lead guitarist and primary vocalist of the Wailers. The album was a success with “I shot the Sheriff” and “Get up, Stand up”. In 1975 they released a third album, but Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer quit to pursue solo careers. The Band became Bob Marley and the Wailers. They went on a new European tour with shows considered to be the top of the decade, with a live version of “No Woman, No Cry” which was a world wide hit.

thumb|300px|left|Smile Jamaica Concert (youtube)In 1976 a type of Reggae-Mania hit the states with Rolling Stone naming them band of the year. In the same year Bob Marley played a free concert at Kingston’s National Heroes Park with a peaceful message against the ghetto wars occurring in Trenchtown. Just two days before the show, gunmen attacked his home shooting at Bob, Rita and two friends. No one was killed and despite the threat, Bob performed a memorable show only two days later. The band then left for the UK recording 1977’s Exodus, possibly their best album of all time. This solidified the band’s international stardom. It went number one in England, Germany and other countries. During their European tour, in Lonfon, Bob injured his toe playing football. It later became diagnosed as cancerous. The cancer could have been cured by amputation of the toe, but Bob refused same due to his Rastafarian faith. He returned to Jamaica to play the One Love Peace Concert wherein he accomplished a hand shake between Jamaican President Manley and leader of the Opposition, Edward Seaga. He was awarded the Peace Medal of the Third World from the United Nations and visited Africa for the first time. (oppapers)thumb|300px|right|Smile Jamaica Concert (youtube)

As the 70’s closed, Bob Marley and the Wailers enjoyed remarkable popularity planning an American tour with Stevie Wonder for the 80’s. The tour started in Boston and then New York where Bob’s health declined and he collapsed with the diagnosis of a month to live due to a brain tumor. The tour was cancelled, with Bob entering a Miami hospital and undergoing unsuccessful treatment in Germany, where he celebrated his final birthday. He wanted to die at home but only made it back to Miami. He was mourned internationally by thousands, including the Jamaican President and the Leader of the Opposition. After his death he was awarded Jamaica’s Order of Merit. (dubandreggae)

Depiction of Leadership and Control

Bob Marley preached the principles of self-leadership, such as taking responsibility for your actions, making and standing by difficult choices and focusing thoughts on positive outcomes. He knew that a person had to be in charge first of themselves before leading anyone else. One of his well known verses, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery” is such a clear example of his message of self determination and control as well as personal responsibility. Reaching people through the peaceful means of words via music, exemplifies true leadership. (caribbeanaxis)

Bob remains a hero figure, his life being dedicated to spreading certain truths in which he believed, through his music. The lyrics of Bob Marley’s music are a poetry expressing powerful messages. His simple words, somehow took the world by storm, providing timeless and universal wisdom. They provide true leadership in peacefully covering a range of social issues, addressing difficulties of independence, overcrowding, violence, poverty and oppression. They reflect a history of slavery, politics and racial inequality. Within songs like “Get Up, Stand Up” there are themes that can be embraced across all political and religious boundaries. Amnesty International uses this song as their anthem. It’s an anthem that rouses people to consider a solution to their troubles, whatever they are, no matter how big or small. The music infuses an energy and the words motivate and intrigue the mind and soul. All of his songs deliver messages, encouraging self pride and associated action towards accomplishing goals. People follow his words and keep the idealistic hope always of a better tomorrow with the dream of One World, One Love, voluntarily. The fact that his music is still very popular, decades after his death stands testimony to it’s relevancy. His honest calls for justice and peace incorporated religion and politics, as do most leaders. Bob Marley as a leader was respected so much that he gained control of the heart and minds of people. He wanted people to be their own leaders, acknowledging that true control comes from the power within each of us to change the world to a better place. (pbs)

To quote an essay published in The Beat Magazine, vol. 19#3, 2000,

“I hereby predict with reckless confidence that hundreds of years into the future, Marley’s melodies will be as prevalent as those of any songwriter who has ever lived. “No Woman No Cry” will still wipe away the tears from a widow’s face; “Exodus” will still arouse the warrior;, “Redemption Song” will still be a rallying cry for emancipation from all tyrannies, physical and spiritual;…”One Love” will be the international anthem of a coffee-colored humanity living in unity, in a world beyond borders, beyond beliefs, where everyone has learned at last to get together and feel all right.” “In his true hear of hearts, Bob Marley heard the harmony of the heavens, and shared that celestial sound with the god-seeker in each of us.” (pbs)




"The people who are trying to make this world worse aren't taking a day off. How can I?"

"I don't stand for the black man's side, I don't stand for the white man's side. I stand for God's side."

"Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!"

"Me only have one ambition, y'know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together - black, white, Chinese, everyone - that's all."

"My music fights against the system that teaches to live and die."

"None but ourselves can free our minds."

"People want to listen to a message, word from Jah. This could be passed through me or anybody. I am not a leader. Messenger. The words of the songs, not the person, is what attracts people."

Works and Analysis

Song Analysis
Redemption Song


3 Examples of Poetic Devices:

Imagery-language that creates a picture in the reader’s mind.

Excerpts -“Old pirates yes they rob I” “Sold I to the merchant ships” “From the bottomless pit” “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery” “By the hand of the almighty” “Triumphantly”

-brings to life pictures of slavery, repression, pain and suffering, as evident in first 3 excerpts

-the reference of emancipation from mental slavery is very deep, suggesting introspection, change from within, spiritual strength and ultimately triumph Rhythm-repetition of a particular pattern, giving musical quality(in this case, is music)

Excerpt-“All I ever had, is songs of freedom”

“Won’t you help to sing, these songs of freedom”

“Cause all I ever had, redemption songs”

“Redemption songs”

These particular lines are repeated 3 times, at the beginning, middle by themselves and at the very end of the song, almost word for word, with slight variation in combination, creating melody. Rhyme-repetition of same sound in different words, example occurs at end of line

Excerpt-“While we stand aside and look” line 18

“We’ve got to fulfill the book”line 20

-repeated same for lines 29 & 31

-the use of these rhyming lines at the end of two main stanzas, which also start with the exact same line have an encompassing or unifying effect, within the song, keeping it together

Overall Message/Theme of the Poem: The overall message of these song lyrics is that personal freedom is a state of mind and spiritual experience. Also, there is a theme that there are things bigger than each of us and we have to look outside ourselves to see that. It might also be encouraging brotherhood and unity and individual perseverance. The overall mood or tone of the song is one of repression or anguish, mixed with hope. In the first 3 opening lines the author references “I’, then refers to “We” making it very personal. This has an impact of engaging the reader or listener on a personal level. It goes on almost in the form of a pleas or call to action in “Won’t you help?” “Emancipate yourself”, “How long?” which directly relates on an emotional level.

Get Up, Stand Up


Rhythm-repetition of a particular pattern, several times from start to finish Excerpt-“Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!”

“Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight.”

Rhyme: for most of the song, the last syllable of every other line rhymes, but sometimes in the verses this fundamental structure is altered, so not lulled into a boring pattern, keeps the reader alert and interested Excerpt-“Most people think, Great God will come from the skies, Take away everything And make everybody feel high. But if you know what life is worth, You will look for yours on earth”: Common Phrases-such as “not all that glitters is gold”, “now you see the light,” and “you can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”-makes the reader feel familiar and in the know, like we understand what the author is conveying Hyperbole-exaggeration for dramatic effect Excerpt-“Heaven is under the Earth” Marley uses this to attack the traditional and accepted idea that heaven is skyward, somewhere better and removed from earth, but absolutely not under the earth. He further exaggerates that it could even be, of all evil places, below the earth, a very dramatic and unsavory thought to most people Overall Message/Theme of the Poem: The mood of "Get Up, Stand Up" is really where its message is conveyed to the listener. The frequent repetition has the beat of a protest or an urgency, a call to action. The message of the song is that pride is well and good, but with that feeling comes the need for accomplishment. It’s an anthem that rouses people to consider a solution to their troubles, whatever they are, no matter how big or small. The music gives you an energy and the words are motivating and make you think. The song is a criticism of religious hypocrisy. It’s message is that every person should seek salvation while still on earth, through living well, not just thinking God will forgive all your sins, regardless of actions.

Buffalo Soldier


Alliteration & Rhyme-deliberate repetition of consonant sound as well as repetition of same sounds Excerpt-“Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy, Rhythm-repitition of particular patterns, several times Excerpt-“There was a buffalo soldier in the heart of America”

“Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival”

-repeated several times throughout, with slight variations

Internal Rhyme-rhyming that occurs within the same line Excerpt-“Stolen from Africa, brought to America”

Or “Said he was fighting on arrival, fighting for survival;” Overall Message/Theme of the Poem The lyrics of the song are like a history lesson and political commentary on the arrival of black people in America and their conscription into the army. It recounts the true story of four post-Civil War regiments of the U.S. Army-the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry. These units were composed of black privates under the command of white brass, who fought for a quarter century in the Indian wars of the late 1800s. The song reflects upon how African slaves were brought to America and then used to fight the Native Americans. Marley wrote this song hoping to reach the urban youth in America, and to illuminate the struggle against injustice. He wanted young people to think about their history with pride and to be aware of the manipulations that sometimes underly politics. He used the song to remind young people, especially in the U.S. and Caribbean of political and personal struggles. He wanted them to think about their past, present and future, about right and wrong and to form a solid idea of who they are.



Alliteration: Excerpt-“We know where we’re going, uh!”

“We know where we’re from,”



Exodus! Exodus!

All right! Exodus!

Now, now, now, now!

Exodus! Exodus!

Oh, yea-ea-ea-ea-ea-ea-eah! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move!
Rhyme: Excerpt-“Jah come to break downpression, Rule equality,

Wipe away transgression, Set the captives free.” Overall Message/Theme of the Poem: This song delivers a message about religion and self examination. The exodus out of Babylon is really a reference to escaping out of an oppressive environment or society. He is comparing present day plights to biblical times. He sees injustice leading to the degeneration of society and eventually an exodus to a place where humanity could thrive in an environment of equal opportunity. He calls for questioning your purpose and happiness and if you like who you are. He also emphasizes the importance of knowing your past and where you hope to get to and what you need to do to get there.

My Sonnet

Hating due to the colour of ones skin,

It makes absolutely no sense to me,

Or for their religion, tribe, sex or kin,

Their eyes are wide open, but can not see.

All the crime, violence, and injustice, Corrupt policing and racial profiles,

The senselessness, terror and prejudice,

In protest, people marched for many miles.

To gain a freedom that’s now been suppressed,

Haunting images of slaves sold and bought,

This always leaves my soul, feeling unrest,

Disrespect and racism, is being taught.

Let us believe we are all just people,

Created unique, but always equal.

Works Cited or Consulted

"Bob Marley Biography." Sing365. Sing365, Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>.

"Bob Marley." Dub and Reggae n. pag. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>.

"Bob Marley." OPPapers. Sing365, Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>.

Bronfman, Miguel. "Bob Marley and Beyond." Dub and Reggae 12,8,2010: n. pag. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>.

K, Niels. "Bob Marley." Life and Legacy. Bob Marley, n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>.

Steffens, Roger. "About Bob Marley." Bob Marley14,2,2001: n. pag. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>.

Toppin, Brian. "Self-Leadership Tips in Bob Marley's Songs." Bob Marley 14,12,2010: n. pag. Web. 16 Jan 2011. <>.