Ah, Marley Man.  I was excited when I found this at the Half-Price Books in Upper Arlington (UA…where all the Rastafarians in Columbus hang out…they get their ganga from the Chef-O-Nette gang) for $6.99 minus my 10% educator discount.  Actually, they had three copies, and two had the Island Records label and the other had the Tuff Gong label (still distributed by Island Records) which I believe was Marley’s own record label, so I of course I bought the Tuff Gong one (it was in better shape too :)).  Anyway, this is the first “Greatest Hits” package on the list.  There have been three compilation records so far (Elvis Presley “Sunrise”, Robert Johnson “The Complete Recordings”, and Muddy Waters “Anthology”), but this is the first true greatest hits record.  And in a way, I think its kind of cheating to put a greatest hits package on a list like this (there are more to come with Al Green and CCR), but at the same time, all the songs on this CD are truly great, and most were in fact hits, so I guess its okay.  Actually, I’m not really familiar with Bob Marley’s other work, and these are the Bob Marley songs I truly know…the same Bob Marley songs every frat boy and sorority girl learns in college (right, bro?) and every fake Rasta-man can sing along with at the skate-board park.

So there is this Irish band I like a lot, Seanchai and the Unity Squad, that plays a sort of Celtic/hip-hop/reggae mix.  It’s a weird mix, but most of the time it works.  Actually, they aren’t really Irish, they are from Brooklyn, but Seanchai (aka Chris Byrne) was a founding member of Black 47 before branching off and founding the Unity Squad.  They have a female co-lead singer, Rachel Fitzgerald, who likes to incorporate Marley’s “Redemption Song” into one of her songs, “Bogside Girl”, and it’s a pretty stunning moment when she performs it live.  And more than just that, the Unity Squad has in a small way continued to carry the torch for Marley’s main message of peace and understanding, even if they are a group of unlikely torch bearers.

Another experience I had with Bob Marley’s music was back in college on my way back from New Orleans.  Three of my good friends from the music department and I had gone down to the Crescent City for the Sugar Bowl game between Ohio State and Florida State.  And despite the outcome of the football game, we had a pretty amazing time on that trip.  So on the way home, we decided to stop off in Meridian Mississippi for the night, and right next to our motel, on a road that curved slightly down and around under a hill, was a bar called the Hidaway Lounce (actually, I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be the “Hideaway Lounge”, but it was spelled wrong on the marqee).  So we went in for a drink in our Ohio State t-shirts, and the locals took and instant disliking to us.  Well, not the sweet lady behind the bar (“Were you boys at the Sugah Bowl or the Supah Bowl?”), but the local rednecks playing foosball (“Around here we play with a firm wrist”) certainly did not care for us.  So once we were kicked off the foosball table, we went over to the jukebox and played “Get Up Stand Up”….message sent and received.  I guess they are still a little bitter about the Civil War down there (“Not only did Mississippi wait 150 years after Lincoln [to ratify the amendment abolishing slavery], they waited 6 months after Lincoln the Movie!” — Seth Myers, SNL), and after that it was strongly suggested that we leave their establishment (although Striffarino did manage to leave a present for them on their roof).  Ah, good times.

Finally, if I am going to reminisce about good times spent with Bob Marley’s music, I have to mention Black Cloud’s wedding.  Well, mostly good times.  Several years ago, Black Cloud decided to tie the knot down in the Sunshine State where he now resides.  Honored to be asked to be a groomsman, I flew down from my comfy Ohio apartment to the sweltering Florida sunshine.  However, since the shadow of the Black Cloud is never far away, the airline lost my luggage on both the way down and on the way back.  This was somewhat vexing, since my suitcase contained the kakis and the bowling shirt I was supposed to wear on the beach at the wedding.  Fortunately, the airline managed to get me the suitcase a mere 12 hours after I landed, so the disaster was averted.  At any rate, the wedding theme was “One Love”, as apparently Black Cloud had become a huge Marley fan (when he was just an Ohio boy he was a Parrothead…I guess Flada did have a positive effect on him).  In fact, Black Cloud is such a huge Marley fan now that he named his own progeny after Marley (so in retrospect, it’s definitely a good thing that he and his wife resolved the massive argument they got into at the wedding reception!).

Other lists: “No Woman No Cry” ranks #37 (actually, it is the studio version, but the write-up admits that the live version from this album is better), “Redemption Song” is #66, “Get Up Stand Up” is #302, and “I Shot the Sheriff” is #450 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.  Bob Marley is #11 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists and is #19 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers.

My favorite track: “Redemption Song”

Honorable mention: “Three Little Birds”

Quote 1: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery…none but ourselves can free our minds”

Quote 2: “If you know what life is worth, you will look for yours on earth”

Quote 3: “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing is gonna be alright!”