This is why Bob Marley wrote the “Redemption Song”

May 10, 2020

“Redemption Song” Most Influential Song in Jamaica’s Music History


The final track on the Bob Marley and the Wailers twelfth Album ‘Uprising’ is the song ‘Redemption Song’ done by Bob Marley, it was produced by Chris Blackwell through ‘Island Records’.

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Some of the key lyrics in the song were derived from a speech entitled “The Work that has been done” that Marcus Garvey the Pan-Africanist orator had given many years before.

It is an acoustic recording that is different from the majority of Marley’s music. It was done in the G major key; without accompaniments.

‘Redemption Song’ was released in the UK and France as a single in October 1980, a full band rendered the song. That version was included as a bonus track in 2001, on the reissue of ‘Uprising’ and on a compilation of the ‘The Very Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ in 2001.

 On February 5, 2020, the song was also listed as one of the top 20 political songs of all time. This happened on the eve of the 75th year after Marley’s birth and his estate released a video animation of the song.

The acoustic ballad urges listeners to emancipate themselves from mental slavery, as none but ourselves can free our minds, these were the words Marcus Garvey had used before and they are now written in “Black Man’s Magazine” Garvey’s book.

Rolling Stone placed the song at no. 66, as one of the greatest songs of all times and Mutabaruka a Jamaican Poet and broadcaster chose the song as he thinks it is the most influential recording in Jamaica’s music history.

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The song was seen as one that was very meaningful and influential as Marley seemed to be asking his people to understand the fact that slave masters can free the body but the freedom of the mind is important and each individual is personally responsible for that.

This is why Bob Marley wrote the “Redemption Song”

Timothy White a Biographer said it was an ‘Acoustic Spiritual’ and someone else referred to it as a ‘deep personal verse’.

Lyrics for ‘Redemption Song’

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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

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

Emancipate yourselves 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 the book

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

“Redemption Song” was featured in a series that explored famous pieces of music with their emotional appeal in 2017.

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