None But Ourselves Can Free Our Mind

The sixth of February holds a special meaning for me each year and today is no different. The birthday of the legend that is Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley is this day and it strikes a chord with me unlike any other. Marley was a Catholic and later converted to becoming a Rasta, so he had a very unique set of beliefs. I truly believe, however, that we can learn an immense amount from his words and what better day than today to acknowledge them?

Marley recorded four songs with the Wailers originally, one of which was Judge Not. The title alone is something our world needs today. The lyrics proclaim, “I know that I’m not perfect and that I don’t claim to be. So before you point your fingers, be sure your hands are clean.” Another song that follows this mentality is So Much Trouble In The World. So many people compare their lives to other people: celebrities, friends, enemies, colleagues. A common way of making us feel better about our lives is to put other people’s down or claim what they are doing is not up to par. If we would take a look at our own lives, I know that we would see that they are not perfect either. Everyone makes mistakes. No one life is exactly what they want it to be. Focus on yourself and your own life before jumping into judging someone else’s.


I Shot the Sheriff seemed mistakenly innocent, yet there was huge meaning behind it. Marley originally wanted the lyrics to be “I shot the police…,” however he later stated that “the government would have made a fuss so I said ‘I shot the sheriff’ instead… but it’s the same idea: justice.” Marley lived in a time with racial prejudice and injustice. He became a verbal leader through his music for equality and peace and this song was just one more way of him proving that. Today’s world, while improved in some senses, is still incredibly prejudice among select groups of people whether it be based on race, ethnicity, religion or even gender orientation. Marley also released Get Up, Stand Up to encourage people to fight for their rights. He saw the injustice in the world and wanted to shed light onto it and that it just what he did. Using his words to demand peace proved to be a better solution than any fighting could have.

When his album Exodus was released, a song entitled Three Little Birds was a major hit. This song has continuously made its way into people’s hearts and souls since its release. The lyrics are simple but powerful, plus the music of this song is joyful and happy. This song personally hits home for me. Each of our lives have had and will have trials. There are days where we feel that going on is simply unbearable. Losing someone we love or making major life decisions are examples of days where we feel we cannot manage. These lyrics speak to people in every facet of their troubles. “Don’t worry about a thing cause every little thing is gonna be alright.” No matter what you are going through, fate will bring you to exactly where you need to be and everything will work out just as planned.


The last song that I feel is extremely worth noting is my personal favorite. Redemption Song has spoken the purest words and made the biggest impact on our world out of any song, in my opinion. Marley took the things he saw around him that were hurting people or causing pain and strung this song together based on a speech given by Marcus Garvey on Pan-Africanism.  This movement sought to uplift the people of African descent. At a time with such hate in the world, this song made an incredible impact. When Marley wrote this song, he was already deep into his diagnosis with cancer and dealing with the thoughts of death that clearly appear through the lyrics in this song. Redemption Song has been called “the most influential recording in Jamaican music history.” The lyrics state to “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds.” This line is my favorite of any song. We become fixated on becoming the perfect person and through this we obtain a “mental slavery,” which only we can break.


The legacy that Bob Marley left in this world is one that will never be forgotten. His words still hold true meaning and his life remains one that people everywhere respect and admire. Rest in Peace, Bob Marley, and Happy 70th Birthday…we know the Sun is Shining.


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