Bob Marley was one of the greatest reggae artists that ever lived. He made music that he believed in and his songs still resonate with people worldwide today.
While his music dealt with politics, spirituality and global and Jamaican affairs, he also had a knack for writing love songs that were positive and beautiful. Below are a few of his best ones.
1. One Love / People Get Ready
One Love / People Get Ready is a ska song written and recorded by Bob Marley’s original group, The Wailers, in 1965. It was later reworked as a reggae track on their 1977 album Exodus and became a classic.
The song was inspired by a song titled “People Get Ready” by the Impressions, a ska band that influenced Marley. However, the most famous version of this song was actually a reworking by Marley and his band called “One Love.” It incorporates pieces of “People Get Ready” while also incorporating some of his own ideas.
This song was also the inspiration for a few other lesser known songs. Jason Mraz, a singer who is a fan of both Marley’s music and his life, performed this song in a 2005 Gap commercial that featured him wearing a pair of his favorite Gap jeans while singing it.
This song is also the title of a romantic reggae film from 2003 starring Ky-Mani Marley, one of Bob Marley’s sons. The song is also the subject of a number of ice cream floats that are named for it, including the Ben and Jerry’s banana-flavored pint.
2. Iron Lion Zion
Iron Lion Zion is a Rastafari hymn sung by Bob Marley. It was written in 1973 or 1974, and released posthumously in 1992 on the Songs of Freedom box set.
The song’s lyrics relate to Rastafarianism, and the theme of unalloyed strength. The lion in the song, a symbol of strength, represents Haile Selassie I (the former Ethiopian emperor, who was seen as the Messiah by Rastafarians) and Zion is the promised land.
It also reflects Marley’s belief in Pan-Africanism, an African movement that promotes unity and equality among African peoples. This is a recurring motif in Marley’s music, and it was evident in his work for the Black Panther Party.
According to Mojo magazine, Island Records’ Trevor Wyatt discovered Marley’s original version of the song by chance. It was recorded in April 1973 at Harry J’s studio, but it wasn’t finished and probably wasn’t included on a later Marley album.
Ten years after his death, it was reworked by Island Records with the help of engineer Ingmar Klang and jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine. The result was a propulsive, previously unreleased gem that still reverberates. It’s a must-have for any Marley fan.
3. We Shall Remain
We Shall Remain is a tad overwrought but the story is worth the read. For starters, this song is a good place to start for a discussion on the history of indigenous Americans in America. In short, this song is one of those songs that are destined to be in the classroom for years to come. Whether your students are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of their tribal heritage or just want to sing along to this oh so catchy tune, you’ll find plenty to keep them entertained. The best part is you can let the kids drool on their own while you get down to business.
4. Is This Love
One of Bob Marley’s most romantic songs, it’s a perfect song to listen to on Valentine’s Day. This tune demonstrates that Bob was not afraid to express his love for his wife Rita despite the fact that their relationship was rocky at times.
This slow-skanking declaration of romantic intent is a gem from their early 70s era with Island Records. The song was a hit in 1978 and was later covered by Johnny Nash.
The lyrics to this song are not quite what you would expect for a love song – it’s based on the Old Testament and it’s about putting in extra work to achieve a goal. But there is a hint of nocturnal love here as well.
In addition to being a beautiful song that is sure to make you cry with every syllable, this song is also a great example of how Bob incorporated spiritual lyrics into his music. He used this song as a metaphor for how hard it is to get through life on your own.
This is another song that shows Marley was not afraid to stand up for what he believes in and is one of his most politically charged songs. It encourages people to unite and fight for their rights instead of waiting around for salvation.
5. Redemption Song
The 10th track on Bob Marley & the Wailers’ twelfth studio album Uprising, Redemption Song is a haunting reggae ballad that was written during a time when the artist was diagnosed with cancer. This acoustic tune is a testament to the resiliency and power of Rastafarian spirituality.
It reflects on the exploitation of Africans throughout history. In particular, it highlights the transatlantic slave trade. This era saw the continent being plundered of resources, humanity and dignity.
While the lyrics in this song reflect the past, they also carry a future hope. In the song’s chorus, Marley reassures his followers that they can overcome all they face with the help of God and that their souls will be redeemed.
Despite the fact that Marley was facing his death, he didn’t let his pain and fear overshadow his concern for the world. He wanted to leave behind something that would be meaningful and helpful to others.
The words in this song speak of the need to free oneself from mental slavery, which is a much more powerful force than physical slavery. The mind is the most powerful thing that we have and it can be manipulated by many different things.
6. Could You Be Loved
The first single from Bob Marley and the Wailers’ twelfth and final album Uprising, Could You Be Loved was written on an airplane while the band was experimenting with guitar. In the middle of the song, background singers quote Marley’s first single “Judge Not,” with lyrics like, “The road of life is rocky; And you may stumble too.”
It’s easy to see why the song was a hit: It’s full of high-spirited rhythms and a message that reflects the joys of freedom in the face of adversity. But the message also points to a troubling time for Marley and his band: As they rose from shanty-dwellers in Jamaica to a privileged, tax-bracket-scrambling group of success seekers, Marley had his own questions about how success in the midst of poverty can be a bad thing.
This song, which was a top-ten hit in the United States, isn’t just about the spirit of hope and unity; it’s also a warning against agents of Babylon. The opening line, “Don’t let them change ya, or even rearrange ya!” can be interpreted as a reminder that the righteous will be judged by their actions, just as the lines before it can be seen as a call to resist spiritual fitness in the face of a corrupt world system.