PHOTO COURTESY | WIKI COMMONS
Joan Baez and Bob Dylan at the ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’ in 1963.
In the song “No Woman, No Cry” Bob Marley sings, “In this great future you can’t forget your past,” and I feel that these lyrics apply to Marley’s lyrics perfectly. We live in a generation where everyone seems to be searching for a voice and people lack a connection between their beliefs and pop culture.
Throughout time there have been many artists whose music have seemed to transcend time none more so than Marley and Bob Dylan. If you are not familiar with the two, Dylan is originally from Duluth, Minnesota, so for those who know him he is already a hometown hero.
Marley is from Trenchtown, which was one of the worst slums in not only Jamaica but in the entire world. Dylan and Marley climbed their way to fame from humble beginnings and along the way wrote some of the most powerful lyrics of all time.
Marley sang of his oppressive government in songs like “Rebel Music” and also made an entire album about the unification of Africa called “Survival.” He sang of love and good times while basically being the founder of reggae.
However, Marley’s lyrics about issues throughout the entire world are the ones who have found a spot in the hearts of many throughout decades. In the song “Redemption Song” Marley sings,
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery/none but ourselves can free our minds/Have no fear for atomic energy/Cause none of them can stop the time.”
This lyric means that we need to break the bonds of which society has told us we should think and start to think our own thoughts, to go against the grain.
“Have no fear for atomic energy ’cause none of them can stop the time” refers to the threat of atomic weapons, which is still a threat today and forever will be.
This lyric means that even if an atomic bomb were to be dropped, the voices of the many will never be silenced. It means that there will always be voices to defend the ideas of freedom for all.
Marley and Dylan both had a passion for speaking out about global issues. In songs like “Blowin’ the Wind,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and “Hurricane” he sings about violence, oppression, racism and the differences between the future generations.
In the “The Times They are A-Changin’” Dylan sings,
“Come mothers and fathers/throughout the land/and don’t criticize/what you can’t understand/Your sons and your daughters/are beyond your command.”
This lyric is still meaningful to this day. This lyric was written about the ’60s progressive and civil rights era. This song encouraged young people to abandon beliefs that they did not believe, even the beliefs passed down by their parents.
Many people have begun to grow tired of just sitting back watching the world be formed around them without being a part of it. Homosexuals, women and African Americans have all began to become more vocal about the injustices and the inequalities that they encounter.
Singers like Dylan and Marley from the early ’60s going into the ’70s are the ones who set the precedent for singing about the mistreatment of all people, especially the black community who have been oppressed since this country’s founding. Dylan and Marley were both musicians who sang for the outspoken and tried to make a difference with their music through lyrics that bleed with passion.
I urge you not to forget your past and to not only listen but to feel the echoes of the musical prophets who came before us and whose lyrics will continue to transcend through time forever.