Help to Sing Redemption Song – Bob Marley

‘Redemption Song’ by Bob Marley is one of those songs that stick in the head of anyone who listens to it, because it brings together the strength of the...

‘Redemption Song’ by Bob Marley is one of those songs that stick in the head of anyone who listens to it, because it brings together the strength of the lyrics and the sweetness of the melody. Recorded entirely acoustically, it differs from any other Marley’s songs, so much that we don’t find any hint of his reggae style. It is almost like  a ‘total departure’ from anything he ever wrote and performed, as pointed out by American music journalist and biographer Stephen Davis. Probably this was because the inspiration for this song came from a traumatic and meditative time, he had been diagnosed with cancer that ended up killing him two years later.

The song is the final track of the album ‘Uprising’, the ninth album by Bob Marley and the Wailers, released in June 1980, and it represents Marley’s goodbye since it was the last song performed during a recorded show in Pittsburgh, at the end of the Uprising Tour, before his premature death at the age of 36 in May 1981.

 ‘Redemption Song’ summarizes what Marley fought for during his entire life: freedom and redemption. The song is about the slavery trade, from which freedom can be reached through redemption and fearlessness.

A particular reference must be made for the verse that made history ‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, None but ourselves can free our minds’ which has been taken from a speech by Marcus Mosiah Garvey, leader of the Pan-Africanism movement, that took place in n Nova Scotia during October 1937:

“We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind…”

In the end this is a call for those who feel imprisoned to not fear their destiny because they will find freedom and justice will be made. And we agree.

Lyrics:

Old pirates, yes, they rob I,
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.

But my hand was made strong
By the ‘and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly.

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it’s just a part of it,
We’ve got to fulfill de book.

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but ourselves can free our mind.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it’s just a part of it,
We’ve got to fulfill the book.

Won’t you help to sing,
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever had,
Redemption songs.
All I ever had,
Redemption songs
These songs of freedom
Songs of freedom

Categories
Sounds from the Bucket
Francesca Aloisio

Francesca is both an International Relations graduate and a dancer living in Rome. She is particularly interested in international issues, intercultural learning and culture sharing, as well as music and arts. She is currently a consultant for the UN agency IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) in the communication division.

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