This week gave me the chance to discover two more albums I had never heard before... Perhaps his almost mythic status is what kept me away from Bob Marley previously. I have only ignorance to cite for my lack of knowledge of The Band. I had heard of Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm, but had never heard this album. Whatever preconceptions I had about both of these records was dashed when I gave them my full attention.
046: Bob Marley and the Wailers – Legend (1984)
I can't claim that I never heard these songs before. Really, who could?
I would have to admit that I had heard almost every song here (if not all). It was always just atmospheric, or background music--never something I had taken the time to sit down and digest.
Everything here is beautiful--I know I'm most likely preaching to the long-since converted. I watched the Marley (2012) documentary to get more of a sense for the historical context of Bob Marley's music (currently available on Netflix streaming). After having watched several music bio-documentaries this year, I would have to say this is one of the better ones I've seen thus far. Many of these documentaries eulogize the subject and minimize any detail that might tarnish their legacy. This one seemed to present the good, bad, and ugly.
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I never knew that Bob Marley was of mixed race--a German father and Jamaican mother--or the alienation he felt his whole life. For me, this gave so much more depth and added layers to his over-arching message of unification, peace, and positivity. The documentary presented the complex fact that he was a less than perfect father and husband. I love seeing an honest humanity in documentaries like this.
What does one even say about the songs on this record?
I had heard every song here before for good reason. They're amazing. Every one.
045: The Band – The Band (1969)
This is one of those albums that gets better every time I've listened to it. I watched the Classic Albums episode about this record before even listening to the album once. From it I definitely got a sense of how gifted each of these musicians is. I was especially blown away by Garth Hudson--the keyboard player. How he can play like that, I do not know.
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The first time I listened to the record, I was my typically guarded self. I was like, meh, it's good, I guess.
Then I heard Whispering Pines. That song is perfect. I could listen to it a million times I still not be able to put a finger on why it's so magical for me. I guess that's the power of songwriting.
On subsequent listens, I realized how much I was getting into other songs, like When You Awake (even though I may never understand why the song fades out during the middle of a lyric--"If I thought it would do any good, I'd stand on a rock with" ????), Jawbone, The Unfaithful Servant (those horn lines, damn), King Harvest (Has Surely Come) (that bass line is sick).
Both of these albums are going to be added to my collection. I want to delve deeper into Bob Marley's catalog. Which full-length record should I focus on if I wanted to get deeper into his catalog? Also, I'm looking forward to listening to Music From The Big Pink (#34)--reading the 33 1/3 book and finally watching The Last Waltz. Who's coming with me?
044: Patti Smith – Horses (1975)
043: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
Want to listen ahead, or see some posts you may have missed? Check out the full list of the 100 Greatest Albums here.