Bob Marley: 36 Years On And The Buffalo Soldier Never Stops
The year was 1980, the place was Pittsburgh, Bob and the band had just played at the Madison Square Garden few days ago where he had collapsed while jogging the next day and had just arrived town for their show. His agent had expressed concerns to the tour promoter, he did not think Bob would be fit enough to play, they had just returned from a visit to the Doctors who had advised them against it. The cancer he had been diagnosed of three years before had spread, the Doctor said.
“You can’t find the right roads when the streets are paved.”
When asked if he was going to perform, Bob said, “‘Mon, I wasn’t going to, but I’m going to for my band and everybody. It’s a sold-out show. I’m going to do it.’ ”
That night at Pittsburgh would be his last appearance on stage, a performance everyone would refer to as magical. He would die eight months later in 1981 at thirty six years, leaving in our hearts the sound of his music, and on our palms a familiar clap sound.
“My music fights against the system that teaches to live and die.”
“So if you are the big tree, we are the small axe. Ready to cut you down, to cut you down.”
And it is this sound that we have kept with us through these years, these memories, of the mixed son of a British Naval Officer and a village girl, nicknamed “White Boy” who read palms and who fought his way to becoming a music sensation. These memories of how his songs made us feel, how we listened to him and reinforced that life must hold more than the ordinary, that it was a tapestry with threads that ran deeper than the physical, how his words made us feel.
He who taught us the power in words through his quotes;
Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.
Love would never leave us alone
The people who were trying to make this world worse are not taking the day off. Why should I
“Never expect God to do for you what you don’t do to others.”
His photographer, Dennis Morris said about him,”I never really needed to pose him,” he says. “We just had this thing about us, the way we worked. Bob said to me, ‘They will always tell you that you can’t do what you want to do, Dennis, but you can do what you want to do. You just have to believe in yourself. The system is to bring you down, but you can rise up.’ That was the beauty of Bob Marley, for me. He made me see that there was much, much more than what was out there.”
And just like Morris, Bob made us all see that, whether through his shiny black locs, or the grace in his finger as he strummed his guitar, whether through the peculiarity of his diction, or the melody in his voice, Bob showed the need to believe in something bigger than ourselves. Irrespective of what it was.
Once he said, “My music will go on forever. Maybe it’s a fool say that, but when me know facts me can say facts. My music will go on forever.”
As we remember him today thirty six years after, so do we to all his words, and all his songs, and the ever chiming melody he has deposited in our hearts. We remember the magic that was and is the Buffalo Soldier, who stunned at football and tennis.
We are grateful for the gift of his music, for the words he had before closing his eyes in death spoken to his son, Ziggy, for those last words, “Money can’t buy life.”
References: Post Gazette and Rolling Stone
Featured Image: Dennis Morris