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My four housemates and two friends, one of us with an acoustic guitar and one with an excellent voice. At the time, I was quite high and it was rather late in the night so I was a bit tired and in general feeling quite good about life because its not too often that I get to spend some quality time with the guys I live with. Not to mention this really cute girl I might be interested in (if she wasn't such a good friend, but then, I wasn't exactly thinking about that problem at this point in our story). We ran through all the obligatory Dave songs that you have to do when you're in the mood to sing (which we were) and you have an acoustic guitar (which we did). We also ran through a bit of the Chili-Peppers in the form of Under the Bridge Downtown.

This song, however, is the only one that keeps reminding me of that particular night. Watching Ram playing his guitar and Jake sing with his eyes closed and swaying while sitting on the edge of the couch, not to mention sitting with my arms around this special friend is attached indelibly onto the surface of my mind.

Uprising - Track #10 - 1980 - Written by Bob Marley | Performed by Bob Marley and the Wailers

Old pirates yes they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they took I from the
Bottomless pit
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the almighty
We forward in this generation triumphantly
All I ever had is songs of freedom
Won't you help to sing these songs of freedom
‘Cause all I ever had, redemption songs, redemption songs

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look
Yes, some say it's just part of it
We've got to fulfill the book

Won't you help to sing, these songs of freedom
Cause all I ever had, redemption songs, redemption songs, redemption songs

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look
Yes, some say it's just part of it
We've got to fulfill the book

Won't you help to sing, these songs of freedom
Cause all I ever had, redemption songs
All I ever had, redemption songs
These songs of freedom, songs of freedom

(Man) loves music more than anything else. Music is his nature; it has come from vibrations, and he himself is vibration ... There is nothing in this world that can help one spiritually more than music.
- Bob Marley

Every several years, there comes along a song that speaks directly to the human existence, that breaks through the barriers of culture and belief to speak directly to each and every one of us. These songs will live on forever, continually performed and recorded, in order that the beauty of the music and the words have the opportunity to reach out and touch other souls. Redemption Song is one of these songs.

Bob Marley knew that death was calling when he wrote and recorded Uprising, his final album. Cancer had spread throughout his body and he underwent extensive chemotherapy throughout 1980, as this album was being written, recorded, and released. Redemption Song is the closer to that record and seems to clearly be Marley's attempt to summarize everything that he had come to symbolize in one song.

Redemption Song starts off with a first-person narrative in which the person is kidnapped by a group of "pirates" and eventual enslavement, but through a spiritual fortification by God, he is able to overcome this enslavement and live free and triumphant. The word "pirate" here, of course, does not refer specifically to a pirate, but instead to any oppressor of any sort, any idea, person, group, or thing that stands in the way of freedom.

Much like an evangelist, Marley moves in on the fact that this described experience has bonded him to his audience, and in the second verse lays it out. "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery," he says, encouraging the audience to not allow themselves to be trapped by the pirates that threaten to put us all in the bottomless pit. Soon after, Marley issues a rhetorical challenge: "How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?" He challenges the listener to not sit idly by and let freedoms be taken away; stand up and do something about it.

I have seen firsthand the dangers of ignorance and racism. I was made to watch as one of my closest friends was made to submit to a beating simply because of the color of her skin. I was screamed at for not immediately bending to the will of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and, later, by representatives of the Catholic Church. I have been told that to believe I had a future beyond working at a paper mill was a complete lie and that I was deluding myself to believe I would be anything more than that.

We are shown and told so many limiting things in our lifetimes, through television and radio and personal experience, that many grow to accept these limitations and go through their lives accepting that they will never rise above the place that society has made for them, that they will never understand the world around them, that they will never have true freedom and must settle for the gasps of air life affords them.

Man was not meant to live this way. We all have a chance at redemption.

The lyrical beauty of the song matches any great political speech ever delivered, yet the simplicity of the message is so pristine as to take your breath away. The power of this message and the lyrical beauty are what makes this song work, and thus the instrumentation works to this advantage: it is very gentle and lilting, letting the words carry the song forward rather than the song carrying the words.

These words were sung almost as an apex to the cultural, spiritual, political, and racial tumult of the 1960s and 1970s ground to a halt. These are words of unity, representing things that as human beings we all want. We all want to be free. We all want to understand the things around us. We all want to love and be loved in our own fractured ways.

There comes a time when the divisions between people grow quite wide, where different sides seem so far apart as to be unreachable. In the end, though, we all want the same thing. We all want to be free and safe and in love. We just see different paths to the same place.

Bob Marley, in those last few months of his life, sings to each of us in that regard. Rarely have there been more truthful words spoken.

Won't you help to sing, these songs of freedom
Cause all I ever had, redemption songs
All I ever had, redemption songs
These songs of freedom, songs of freedom

This review was checked with special care with regards to E2 FAQ: Copyrighted Material.

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