Stephen Marley Remembers Father, Those That Came Before on “Old Soul”

I’m an old soul, living in the body of a 9-year-old. Guess I’ve been here before, sings Stephen Marley. Traveling through a cache of memories, from his childhood, adulthood, his father Bob Marley, and the musical legends that molded him—tribute to the ones that made it all possible / Inside me, a legacy live on—”Old Soul” is a musical scrapbook pinpointing key moments in Marley’s life, from birth through his father’s death in 1981.

Videos by American Songwriter

It was 1972, my mom and poppa brought me through / Back then they said I was their favorite/ So they say … Fast forward to 1981 / My dad moved on and so did I/ Inside, I kept his songs alive / So they say.

Mid-way through, Marley transports to 1991, graduation, listening to Shabba Ranks on the radio, and that girl around the way.

Initially written by Jamaican artist Omi, “Old Soul” was shared with Marley, who reworked the lyrics and dates to better complement his story.

“Omi is a great songwriter,” Marley tells American Songwriter, “so his ability to help tell the story was powerful.”

Originally released on Marley’s 51st birthday on April 20, “Old Soul” is one piece of Marley’s forthcoming album, out later in 2023. The nostalgic ballad is one, he says, carries through the energy of the entire album, his follow up to Revelation Pt. 2 – The Fruit of Life in 2016 and his 2017 collaboration with Pitbull, “Options.”

“Most of these songs were recorded in a very uncertain time in the world, and access to musicians and people in general were limited for a while,” shares Marley, “so the acoustic simple feel of ‘Old Soul’ goes right across the album.” 

Stephen Marley (Photo by Stephen Lashbrook)

Creating a make-shift studio on a farm in the Florida countryside, Marley first began working on the album during the pandemic with nightly jam sessions of new songs, rarities, and old favorites, which he called “irie vibration,” or nice and pleasing vibes. During these unplugged sessions is also when Marley recorded “Old Soul.”

In the video, Marley reveals previously unseen family photos, along with a montage of Jamaican music history. “I hope this one kind of calms you down,” says Marley of the song, “and gives you time to think and feel.”

This summer, Marley will revive his Babylon By Bus Summer Tour, featuring a selection of hand-picked artists in support, including Skip Marley, Roots of Creation, Fortunate Youth, Jesse Royal, Hirie, and Arise Roots. The tour kicks off on June 24 in San Diego, California, and wraps up on August 12 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“My father said, ‘No chains on my feet, but I’m not free,’ and then he comes to say, ‘Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery,’” said Marley in a previous statement. “Anywhere the music calls us, we are going to be there to spread the message of love and unity.”

Join the reggae celebration! Explore the Damian Stephen Marley 2024 tour. Secure your tickets now for a night of pulsating beats and soulful tunes!

Photo by Mike Lue / UMe

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