The Deconstruction of Bob Marley Lyrics

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Elisabetta Gagliardo

English Communications Stage 2, 2010

The Deconstruction of Bob Marley Lyrics

Bob Marley lived from February 6, 1945 until May the 11th 1981. He was a Jamaican singer-song writer and musician. Bob Marley wrote a political orientation, and expressed his ideas and inspirations in the songs that he wrote. He created his sense of identity as a Reggae artist writing songs for the benefit of the world. This will become evident in the deconstruction of I Shot the Sheriff, No Woman No Cry, Redemption Song, Is this love? And So Much Trouble in the World.

I Shot the Sheriff

I Shot the Sheriff was released on the Wailers’ album ‘burning’ in 1973. This song is told from the point of view of a man who admits to having killed the local sheriff, but claims to be falsely accused of having killed the deputy sheriff.

The lyric “Every time I plant a seed, He said kill it before it grow, so I shot the sheriff”, demonstrates two important themes. Firstly, Bob Marley’s desire for the legalization of Marijuana. Secondly that the character described in the song follows a stereo typical bad boy attitude. For what he wanted he would do anything, and wouldn’t let anything come in his way. This is supported with his assassination of the Sheriff, for “self defence”, as he claims.

Bob Marley displays the Characters rebellious spirit by saying he shot the Sheriff, the Big boss, and he didn’t shoot the Deputy, displaying that the deputy was to afraid to begin dealing with him, so he didn’t get the chance to kill him.

The poetry in this Song takes place as both a Sonnet and a Limerick. A Sonnet is a poem that rhymes every second line, (AABB), and a Limerick is a poem that rhymes every first (ABAB). The poetic devices used strongly in this poem include repetition to give a stronger and clearer message out to the people, and metaphoric expressions to express situations in more complex forms.

I personally disagree with this song, as I believe Marijuana should not be legalized in a society, as it damages a person’s reason, and dignity.

No Woman No Cry

No Woman No Cry first became world-famous in 1974 through the studio album Natty Dread. Through the lyrics of this song Bob Marley exposes a part of his most intimate recollection of his family life. The song can be interpreted as an ode to Bob’s mother, and the hardships they faced together in Trench Town. The song portrays they shared a very close relationship, “then we would cook cornmeal porridge, of which I’ll share with you”. This was a meal that Bob Marley enjoyed very much, and it was often prepared with love by his mother “Ciddy”.

Through Bob Marley’s song he expresses his belief in the importance of remaining strong in times of trouble, and too be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is why in his song he recalls the past, and the good times they had together; reminding his mother and, also his sister Georgie that times aren’t always bad.

The poetic structure of this song is divided between a Sonnet and a Limerick. Poetic devices used in this song are Alliteration, Assonance and repetition. This song brings out the desire you have to remember the good old days, whilst you’re going through the bad.

I agree with the message this song portrays, as I believe it is important to remain strong in the difficulties of life.

Redemption Song

The Redemption Song was the last track on Bob Marley’s ninth island music album, Uprising. This song was written in 1979. The song, like most of Marley’s displays his Rastafarian religious convictions. Rastafarian is a religious and political movement that originated in Jamaica in the 1930s that bases its doctrine on selections from the Bible.

Rastafarians don’t like using the word “me”. They believe it makes them sound like non-persons, whose actions are determined by other people. In fact for this they habitually use the word “I” even when it is used incorrectly. This is seen in Bob Marley’s song when he says “Yes they rob I; sold I to the merchant ships.”

The history alluded to this song is obviously the history of slavery and oppression. This is seen through Marley mentioning of the merchant ships, which refer to the slave traders that brought African’s to the new world, and although they operated legally Marley calls them “pirates”. Bob Marley also uses the phrase “bottomless pit”. Here it is needed to remember that just before the biblical Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers he was cast down into a pit. From the pit he was sold to merchants heading to Egypt.

The song goes on relating the slavery of the Africans to that of Joseph, as Joseph managed to find himself mentally in Egypt, as did the Africans in their foreign places. He then invites all to participate in the song of freedom, and to act to the crisis instead of just watching.

This connects to my belief, as I also believe that one can put thought to action with the dramatic situations of the world. “But my hand was made strong, by the ‘and of the Almighty”. I also believe in the power of God, and that he can help you out of troubles, just like Bob Marley displays in this quote.

A poetic device used in this song includes Assonance. An example of this is “Bottomless pit”. Other poetic devices used include repetition, metaphors, and symbolism.

This song similarly like the others, also has a bit of the Sonnet styled poem, mixed with Limerick, and basic story telling structures. The emotion in this song is one of hope, and inspiration, as Bob Marley calls on everybody to “join this song of freedom”; meaning to also contribute to the problems of the world, giving it a positive thought that will help things change.

Is this love?

Bob Marley released Is this love in 1978 on his album Kaya. This song became of the best known Marley songs, and peaked number nine in the UK charts upon its release in 1978.

In this song Bob Marley expresses the more intimate expressions of love as he interrogates the mixed emotions associated with the feeling of love. In the first Stanza of the song, Bob Marley’s caring and devoted personality is displayed.

In all of his songs, Marley manages to politicize the romantic, sending a broader message out to the people. This is seen in this song, when Marley calls on lovers to respect and honour each other, displaying that love isn’t just sexual ecstasy, but it’s a process of devotion. The mood in this song is one of respect for the other; therefore it calls on lovers not to just go by feelings of desire, but to understand the dignity of the person, and to respect it.

I agree with this, as I believe that one should put the dignity of the other person, before self desires.

The poetic structure of is this love is carried out as a Sonnet. Sonnets are well known to present love stories, and that is why Bob Marley used that styled poem for Is this love?

So Much Trouble in the World

So Much Trouble in the World was released by Bob Marley and the Wailers in 1979. In this song Bob Marley aims to wake society up to what is happening in the world. He invites all to participate in helping the world by giving to others. “Give a little.” This phrase doesn’t just mean to physically give something to the more disadvantaged, but it also is trying to portray the message to people to give up some of their time, and effort to helping and making the problems of the world evident.

He speaks of the way society is advancing in technology, and how people fill themselves with ego on the way things are going for them, but they ignore the problems of the world and choose not to face them. Don’t leave another cornerstone Standing there behind We’ve got to face the day”. He directs all to facing the problems of the world, and to face reality, but gives a message of hope. “Bless my eyes this morning, Jah sun is on the rise once again”. By saying this he indicates that good can come back, and all society has to do is face reality, and help instead of turning its face away.

The poetic device expressed in the following quote is symbolism. Bob Marley uses the phrase ‘corner stone’ to symbolize the poor and disadvantaged in the world who are ignored, and uses the word ‘sun’ to symbolize hope, and resurrection from death. The emotion expressed in this song is hopeful, but also confronting.

The Majority of this song is carried out with the poetic structure Limerick. I personally agree with what Bob Marley portrays in this song, as I also believe that society shouldn’t turn its face away to what is happening in the world, and shouldn’t aim to increase its technology, but assist in aiding the problems of the world first.

Throughout the following songs Bob Marley manages to get a broader message out there to the people, whether it being for the benefit of the world; for example in the song: so much trouble in the world, or for the benefit of individuals like in Is this love. It has being reasoned that Bob Marley wrote politically, and expressed his ideas and inspirations in the songs that he wrote, creating his sense of identity as a Reggae artist writing songs for the benefit of the world.


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