We are the Small Axe

“If you are the big tree, we are the small axe. Ready to cut you down, to cut you down” Bob Marley was born on this day in 1945....

“If you are the big tree, we are the small axe. Ready to cut you down, to cut you down”

Bob Marley was born on this day in 1945.

His songs have been soundtrack to peace movements, and many of them carry a strong social and political meaning.

Small Axe is not one of his most famous pieces, but it is a song that carries with itself a a strong message people’s power and for unity against tyranny. It was first released in 1973 with the  Bob Marley and the Wailer’s album ‘Burning’; written by Marley and producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.

The first verse of the song concentrates on an evil figure, a man, who exploits inequality to achieve power and vanity. Bob Marley, who in this case represents the people, is well aware of the mask of this evil man, who to him is not as clever as he looks and can be easily broken down. This is when the chorus starts; with a small axe, this ‘big tree’ can be cut down easily. The people are not scared of the power of the tree, it is almost as if they can see the weakness within, and their trust in a higher power makes them trust in their strength. They are fearless.

At the end of the song, this fearlessness is made clear when he says “no weak heart, shall prosper”, and that whoever digs a pit, will most probably fall in it. There is a strong message of trust in the greater good that comes out of this song.

As the documentary Marley makes clear, the song was originally intender as a reggae diss track.

At the time, the music industry in Jamaica was ruled by Studio One, one of “The Big Three” dominant music labels together with Treasure Isle and Federal . Many have noted that the song might carry a thinly veiled reference to Bob’s sound and record label at the time coming after the established and better heeled record labels in Jamaica.

Although the competition between record labels may also be the reason behind this song, the lyrics speak for themselves, and can be applied to many political situations in which the people have found the courage to protest and fight authoritarian rulers, tyrants and dictators.

Read the lyrics below:

Why boasteth thyself
Oh, evil men
Playing smart
And not being clever?
I said, you’re working iniquity
To achieve vanity (if a-so a-so)
But the goodness of Jah, Jah
I-dureth forever

So if you are the big tree
We are the small axe
Ready to cut you down (well sharp)
To cut you down

These are the words
Of my master, keep on tellin’ me
No weak heart
Shall prosper
And whosoever diggeth a pit
Shall fall in it, fall in it
And whosoever diggeth a pit
Shall fall in it (fall in it)

If you are the big tree, let me tell you that
We are the small axe, sharp and ready
Ready to cut you down (well sharp)
To cut you down

(to cut you down)
(to cut you down)
These are the words
Of my master, tellin’ me that
No weak heart
Shall prosper
And whosoever diggeth a pit
Shall fall in it, uh, bury in it
And whosoever diggeth a pit
Shall bury in it, uh (bury in it)

If you are the big, big tree
We are the small axe
Ready to cut you down (well sharp)
To cut you down
If you are the big, big tree, let me tell you that
We are the small axe
Ready to cut you down (well sharp)
To cut you down
Sharpened

We are the Small Axe
Rate this post
Categories
Sounds from the Bucket
Virginia Vigliar

Virginia is a freelance journalist and editor based in Barcelona, consults for Oxfam in Spain and the Netherlands, and she is the Chief Editor of WIB. She is a passionate advocate of human rights and freedom of speech. And a meme enthusiast. She has worked in the development sector in Malawi and Kenya and Somalia before returning to Europe, where she gained experience in the United Kingdom, Norway, and Spain. To see her work, look at her website here: http://virginiavigliar.com/
No Comment

Leave a Reply

*

*

RELATED POSTS