Title is a spin of "Forever Loving Jah", the penultimate track on Bob Marley's album, Uprising! It sits between "Could You Be Loved" and "Redemption Song". Interesting when you check it was to be his final album before his physical left the green garden known as earth.
Bob Marley is the greatest person to make music in history. His impact and legacy say everything you need to know. Yeah, The 70th best-selling album in USA last year. It was in the top 200 the year before. "Legend" spends more time in the UK top-selling 100 albums than out of it, nearing on Abba's 4th spot for longest reign in the top 75 ever. And you can find him on Spotify top 100 albums too. And the 5th richest dead celebrity.
But I'm just using those stats as an example of his pulling power today. He's able to outperform most artists making music today, let alone people who made it then. Bob died aged 36, thirty-four years ago. He's been gone for almost as long as he was here. And when you check he scored his first international hit, "No Woman, No Cry", a mere six years before his passing, the music has lasted almost six times longer.
But where Bob shines is the bits you can't take to the tills. The fact his words still have as great, if not greater impact today. The fact uni students still hang posters on the wall. The fact mural's are still painted on walls across the globe. The fact you can go to anywhere in the world with a Jamaica flag and they say Bob Marley (and Usain Bolt). The fact people non-black people grow dreadlocks even though it doesn't really fit their hair and criticised by peers. The fact Rasta is a strong form of hippy culture for non-blacks. The fact reggae is listened to, practiced and played by people all over the world.
Not to say he did it single-handedly, but he's by far the most powerful individual to spread it. We're talking a man who holds the record for most attendees at a show in Italy in one night - attracting over 100k. Stadium's across the world. The main reason he isn't shouted about loudly is because (the sometimes backwards) Americans didn't get him while he was alive. And you know they control media.
Bob's legacy is far greater than just a musician - that's what he did. Bob put his thoughts, philosophies, beliefs and observations into music. Music was the vehicle that drove all of that to the hearts, minds and souls of the people. 'Cos that's exactly who Bob is - the people's champion. Really, he said what most of us believe, hence why it resonates. The ability to talk about stuff average people call boring in a pop-friendly way without compromising on the message. I mean, how many others had a moment like when he performed "Zimbabwe" at the Zimbabwean independence? How many could? For the right reasons, not commercial.
The narrative of Bob is marijuana and happy-go-lucky, feel-good music. As great a collection and success Legend has been, it doesn't reflect Bob's full spectrum. That's a lot of people's starting and end point of Bob. While you have "Get Up, Stand Up", there isn't a "Crazy Baldhead" or "The Heathens" proper militant, anti-establishment anthems. No "Jah Live" or "Thank You Lord" for his spirituality. No "So Much Trouble In The World" or "Rat Race" observations of the world. And those are the more popular ones. There are many album cuts worth digging into. Blame the corporates for the softening of his image.
When you consider Bob Marley moved from a struggling family in the countryside to a Kingston ghetto, then rose to be this world famous superhero prophet who sang from a perspective and informed by a faith that was alien to majority of his supporters, there is no greater. His black rights message crossed boundaries more than any black man before him. We need to be taught about him in black history month. Where do I start a petition?
Time alone has told. Happy 70th Earthstrong. Cos in our hearts, ears and minds, Bob will never die.
You can read a conversation I had about Bob Marley with the Queen of reggae and I-Threes member, Marcia Griffiths here
And my "hits on top of hits" post here where I put loads of songs that used Bob Marley riddims to make hits.