May 11, 2017
A Legacy Worth Celebrating
Can an unshakeable belief in the power of peace and love change the world? We certainly think so. Add ice cream to that equation you’ve got the reason we wake up every morning.
Bob Marley used music to heal wounds, spread joy, fight injustice, and make people happy. “One love, one heart,” he sang on the 1977 album Exodus, “let’s get together and feel all right.”
Growing up in the crumbling projects of Trench Town (Kingston, Jamaica), Marley couldn’t have imagined that his music would take him all over the world. He was popular everywhere, from Africa to America—perhaps the world’s first truly global popstar.
And yet for all of his hit songs and all the millions of records sold, Exodus has a special place among his work. It was a reggae album that incorporated a variety of musical genres, with pop, rock, and blues all influencing and expanding the sound. It was a hit that somehow managed to balance laid-back romantic tunes with urgent and biting political commentary. Upon its release, Exodus stayed on the charts in the UK for 56 weeks. It sold hundreds of thousands of copies there and in the US and Canada. It was the album that certified him as an international superstar, and some of its tracks, like “Jammin'” and “Waiting In Vain,” were hits all over the world.
And it was an album that, due to an attempt on Marley’s life, almost didn’t get made.
The Jamaica of his day was chaotic and unpredictable. There were two rival political parties and each paid men to enforce order, violently if necessary, on the streets.
In 1976, Marley had the idea to hold a unity concert, Smile Jamaica, in Kingston. He insisted that it be held at a neutral site and, despite some politicians’ efforts to enlist his support, he made sure that it would be completely apolitical. Smile Jamaica was a call for peace. And yet two nights before the show, gunmen broke into Marley’s house and shot him, his wife, his friend, and his manager. Remarkably, no one died.
Marley still sang at the concert, despite the bullet lodged in his arm, despite everything. He sang for unity. But he left Jamaica the next day and didn’t return for a year and a half.
Exile and Exodus
Wyclef Jean said that “Marley came from the poverty and injustice in Jamaica, and that manifested itself in his rebel sound.” He was a man who, having grown up among violence, having been the victim of violence, still preached the power of peace.
He recorded Exodus during his exile, mixing defiance (“No bullet can stop us now, we neither beg nor we won't bow”) with promises of carefree days to come (“Don’t worry about a thing / cause every little thing is gonna be all right”).
Though many of the songs on Exodus were full of joy, it was a hard-earned joy. "It something really serious, is not entertainment," Marley said once about his music. "You entertain people who are satisfied. Hungry people can't be entertained—or people who are afraid. You can't entertain a man who has no food."
He knew why he sang and who he was singing to. These hungry people—they were people he knew. He’d been hungry too.
Bob Marley’s music continues to resonate today, 36 years after his passing. New generations discover his reggae sound, or incorporate it into other musical genres. His children carry his name forward, touring the world. His songs are remembered, revered, and reborn.
But his message persists as well, songs of pleasure and songs of revolution shared by those struggling against injustice and poverty on almost every continent.
We believe peace and love can change the world. Marley’s acts of political courage and artistic conviction live on. Exodus was released 40 years ago, but the world needs to hear this music, and its message, more than ever. Celebrate this historic anniversary today with your favorite tunes from the album and a pint of our newest flavor, Bob Marley's One Love!
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