3 Eternal Bob Marley Songs that Have Stood the Test of Time

While there are many terrific and significant reggae artists and bands, Bob Marley still sits atop of the list as the genre’s most important figure. More than anyone else, Marley, who was born in 1945 and passed away too soon in 1981 at the age of 36, brought the sounds of his native Jamaica to the world, along with his band the Wailers.

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And during his career, Marley recorded and released a great number of songs that remain popular today, offering sounds and lyrics that continue to be part of the sonic lexicon. Here below, we wanted to explore a trio of those tunes. Three songs that have stood the test of time. Indeed, these are three eternal Bob Marley songs.

[RELATED: 3 Movies Every Bob Marley Fan Should See]

“No Woman, No Cry” from Natty Dread (1974)

Opening with a signature organ sound, this track is a sentimental offering that could have been written in 1974, 1924, or 2074. The best-known rendition of the track was released as a live version in 1975 on the in-concert record Live! And that version has since been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. As far as the song’s lyrics, lead singer Marley is trying to console the subject of the song, whom he is about to leave. He talks about memories from his youth—calming stories of humanity. It’s this normal but beautiful reality that life offers and, in this way, everything is going to be alright, even when he has to go and continue to make his future. He sings,

I remember when we used to sit
In the government yard in Trenchtown, yeah
And then Georgie would make the fire lights, I say
A log wood burnin’ through the night, yeah
Then we would cook cornmeal porridge, I say
Of which I’ll share with you, yeah
My feet is my only carriage
And so I’ve got to push on through
But while I’m gone

Everything’s gonna be alright

“One Love” from The Wailing Wailers (1965)

Another timeless track, this song is about the force that binds all humanity—indeed, all life. So often human beings can feel as if we’re a collection of individuals. But from a bird’s-eye view, we are one people, connected to one another. We are not divided, we are unified, whether we know it or not. And that is what Marley is trying to tell us with his dance-worthy track. On it, he sings,

One love! One heart!
Let’s get together and feel alright
Hear the children crying (One love!)
Hear the children crying (One heart!)
Saying, “Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel alright.”
Saying, “Let’s get together and feel alright.”

“Redemption Song” from Uprising (1980)

One of the most memorable acoustic guitar riffs ever opens this song, which is about colonialism and triumphing over awful realities through spirituality, music, and a sense of internal freedom. A solo song inspired by a speech given by political activist Marcus Garvey, the track is intimate. As a result, it’s personal, painful, and, in the end, hopeful. He is a bird flying up from rubble, an example for all who can see him and hear his song. On the track, he sings,

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? Ooh!
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

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Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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