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Facharbeit: Bob Marley - In his life and his songs

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1. Introduction

This work wants to describe one of the most popular musicians of the world: Bob Marley. He is well known as the greatest singer of Reggae music. Even today you can see his face on T-Shirts and buy his music. The myth Bob Marley is still alive, although he died 21 years ago.
But what do we know about this man – except the fact that he comes from the origin country of Reggae, Jamaica? This piece of work is going to inform about his life, his ideals and the political background, which had great influence on his career and his songs.
2.1 Jamaica - the origin country of Bob Marley
The Arwark-Indianer were the native inhabitants of Jamaica. In 1494 Christoph Columbus anchored at Jamaicas' St. Ann's Bay . Columbus declared Jamaica to Spanish. In 1520, the Spanish people began to cultivate sugar cane, and because of this they took African people to Jamaica as slaves. In 1655 the British came to Jamaica and drove the Spanish away. But the African slaves stayed at the island and fled to the high mountains to live in freedom. They called themselves the 'Maroons'.
In 1670 Jamaica became one of the official colonies of Great Britain. But the Maroons were fighting against the British crown. This Guerrilla-War continued eighty years and did not stop before the year 1739.
In 1808 British government forbad the slave trade and in 1834 they abolished slave-work and slave-ownery. That was a great step to realize the rights of black people in Jamaica.
In 1938, the first free parties of Jamaica could be founded. Social disturbances and joblessness were the reasons for the foundation of 'Labour Party' (JLP) and 'People's National Party' (PNP). In 1944 the Labour Party was the winner of the first free elections of Jamaica.
1962 was a special year for the Jamaican people because at 6th of August 1962 Jamaica became independent from Great Britain.
But in fact more than 80% of the island’s economy, mostly the industries to produce aluminium, was in hand of Great Britain. So most of the island’s income did not reach the people in Jamaica. They had to work for the British economy, not for the Jamaican. Furthermore they had to pay a high tax, which was invested in projects of British interest. After ten years of independency, people realised that a real change did not take place. They felt like they had been slaves for all the years. Bob Marley later sung "400 years" (of the same philosophy), and every Jamaican understood his aim and what he was   "Fighting" for. In this Time a big change happened to the Jamaican Music: from the jumpy, up tempo Ska-sound of the first years of independency, to the more slowly Reggae-beat. Bob Marley is the perfect example for this change in Jamaican popular music. The Wailers’ first songs like "Simmer Down" or "Hot nanny, hot" were without political aims, because the people believed in a change of their own economical situation. This change did not come and their situation got worse. So the music lost its tempo and the lyrics became more political, longing for a change. Marley’s songs in this time had political contents like "Get up, stand up", but also described the life in ghetto-poverty, like "Trenchtown Rock" That made him very popular in Jamaica.
In 1972 Michael Manley (PNP) got the prime minister job. His slogans were ‘Power for the people’ and ‘Better must come’. The PNP announced more humanity and wanted to realize social reforms which take account of the workers and the poor people of Jamaica. Bob Marley and The Wailers like many other bands supported Manley’s’ party and Manley even spoke at Reggae Concerts, music was so important for the Jamaicans that Reggae Artists (and Rastafarians)were very important for the elections of those days. But Manley got financial problems by realizing his reforms, which produced a lot of criticism in the country. Furthermore Manley criticized capitalism at an important conference in 1975. That made foreign politics even more difficult. As a result, the USA stopped any further support. In Jamaica the fact that only two parties ruled the country for 34 years nearly caused a civil war. In the Ghetto of Kingston, Trenchtown, one part was ruled by PNP supporters, the other by JLP supporters. They fought each other with great brutality. The music of these days had some kind of wailing touch the lyrics often spoke of "gunmen in the streets "or crying about dead relatives. Bob Marley sang:"Lootin'an' Shootin'" and again caught the "vibes of the time" in his lyrics.
In 1980 Edward Seaga (JLP) became prime minister after a bloody election campaign against Manley. In this campaign 700 people lost their lives in street fights between the different party-groups. In 1889 Manley became prime minister again but that were his last three years because Percival Patterson (PNP) became prime minister from 1992 until now.

2.2 The Jamaican population
Today 2,7 million people live in Jamaica. Kingston is the capital of Jamaica and 1 million people life there. But Kingston is too small for so many people. So their houses reach from the ocean and the Blue Mountains to the slope of the low mountain range.
About 95% of the Jamaicans are African people, most of them with their origin in West Africa.
The reason for this situation can be found in the past, when the Spanish colonial masters carried the African people as slaves to Jamaica.
56% of the Jamaican people are Protestant Christians, 5% Catholics, 25% of nature religions, Jews, Muslims and 5% Rastafarians.
The Rastafarians believe in the black messiah. We must have a look to the past to understand what the meaning of this sentence is. At the 2.11. 1930 Ras Tafari Makonnen was crowned the king of Ethiopia. His name was 'Haile Selassie I.' He was a descendant of king David, whom we know from the bible. He was called ‘The King of Kings, Lord of Lords and the conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah’.
The name Rastafari is taken from Ras, meaning 'prince' and Tafari, the name of the emperior of Ethiopia.The Rastafarians believe in the Amharic bible, one of the early scripts of the old testament. Most of the Rastafarians have long dread locks like the mane of a lion and wear bonnets in the colours of Ethiopia (red, gold and green). Red stands for the blood in the time of slavery, gold for wealth and green for the stolen land. The Rastafarians want to go back to their roots, back to the holy land of Zion, back to Africa. Smoking ganja ( =marihuana) is also one piece of the interpretation of the holy bible. Church service includes smoking marihuana. For the Rastafarians it is like meditation. But they also revere Marcus Garvey. He wanted the unity of all black people and the return to Africa.
Marcus Garvey is the most important prophet for the rastafarians, born1897. He was a baptist preacher in Jamaica and made the promise, that a black king will be crowned in Ethiopia who should be the black messiah. This king should lead the Jamaicans out of slavery. And really: some years later in Ethiopia Haile Sallasie, the black king, was crowned and he really descended from King David, the biblical king. Marcus Garvey found a "company", called "The black Starliner", which should take the black people to the "holy land Ethiopia" for repatriation. He even sold tickets for the passage. Actually the ships never came and lots of poor Jamaicans lost all their habits and founded the first slums in Kingston, because they were waiting for the ships in front of the docks. Marcus Garvey flew to New York and until now it is not clear what really happened and who earned all the money spent by the Jamaican people. Nevertheless, Rastafarians believe that this was not the fault of Marcus Garvey. He is still the prophet and died in poverty in 1947.

2.3 His Childhood
  Bob Marley was born as Robert Nesta Marley at the 6th of February 1945 in a village called 'Nine Miles' in Jamaica. Bobs father, Captain Norval Sinclair Marley, was a white British army captain who served the Queen. He was fifty years old, when he married the eighteen-year-old Cedella Booker. But as soon as he got to know about her pregnancy, he left her. Bob grew up in 'Nine Miles' with his mother and his grandparents. His grandfather Omeriah told him all about their African roots and explained that they were carried to Jamaica in times of slavery. When Bob was five years old, his father came back to 'Nine Miles' and kidnapped his own son. He took him to a woman in Kingston and left him there. It lasts over one year until Bobs mother could find him and take him back to 'Nine Miles'. It was there, where Bob got into contact with music for the first time. He built his own guitar out of tins and bamboo. With his friend Bunny Livingstone he started to compose his first small songs. When Bobs' mother had to move to Kingston for earning money for the family, Bob stayed in 'Nine Miles'.

2.4 His Youth
1957 Bob came to Kingston to live together with his mom. They lived in Trenchtown, one of the Ghettos in West Kingston. As Trenchtown was the centre of Rastafarians in Kingston, Bob got into contact with their ideology - and with ganja. Besides he was one of the young persons who was in a gang called Rude boys. Young men of the Ghetto who often ended a quarrel with their knife or pistol, even in singing contests when the audience decided the other group to be the better one. There in Trenchtown, Bob met his old friend Bunny again. Both had their first 'real' music lessons with the musician Joe Higgs at that time. There they met Peter MacIntoch and became friends. When Bob was fourteen he left school for earning money and started apprenticeship as a welder. But after being injured by a splinter he broke up this apprenticeship. Bob decided to play his guitar and to try to earn money as a musician from that day on.
2.5 His way to the music business
Bob played in his first band with his friends Bunny Wailer (Neville O'Riley Livingston), Junior Braithwaite and Peter Tosh (Winston Hubert MacIntosh). They called themselves ' Wailing Rude Boys '. In 1962 they published their first record called "Judge Not", which included Ska songs. After Bob was in Derrick Morgan’s show in 1963 he got his first public appearance.
While "The Wailers” tried to be famous, Bob's mom was pregnant of Bunny's father. But as she did not love him, she went to Wilmington in Delaware (USA). Bob stayed in Kingston. After his aunt went to a town called St. Ann, Bob was homeless and slept at the kitchen floor of his friend. Bob and his band started their recording in ‘Studio-One’ for Clement Dodd. But not only Bob's music got better. He also learned more about religion because of the music. Some musicians of studio-one were real Rastafarians and told Bob about their interpretation of the holy bible. In 1965 The Wailers recorded 'One Love'. This record included songs about the philosophy and the massage of the Rastafarians. In late 1965, Braithwaite left the Rude Boys to go to America. In February 1966, Bob married Rita Anderson, a nice educated girl from Trenchtown who was a musician, too. One day after marrying her he left her – like his father left his mom. Bob moved to Wilmington (USA) to live together with his mother and some months later Rita went to Wilmington, too. Later, Bob and Rita flew home together to get their own recordlable.

2.6 Bobs breakthrough
In 1967 Bob and Rita had their own label called " Wail'N Soul'M ". It was very hard for them to carry on the lable because they had to do many jobs. For example they had to take the records to the shops themselves. Because of that Bob decided to sign at another lable, at Danny Sims, who guaranteed everyone of 'The Wailers' his share from the record-selling and 50 US-Dollars extra per week. By the end of the year 1969, 'The Wailers' were making demos for Danny Sims, the manager of soft-soul singer Johnny Nash, who hit the UK charts in April 1972 with the 1968 Marley composition, 'Stir It Up'. Bob, who spent the summer of 1969 in Wilmington, returned to Jamaica, and Bob, Bunny and Peter began collaboration with Lee Perry that proved important to their future development. They worked with the bass and drum team of the Barrett brothers, Aston and Carlton who became a part of the Wailers' sound. The music of Bob Marley and The Wailers made with Perry during 1969-1971 represents possibly the height of their collective powers.  Together they wrote and sang songs such as 'Small Axe' and 'Sun is shining'.
In 1971 a friend of Bob set up a new record label called "Tuff Gong" and gave Bunny and Peter 33 and Bob 34 percent of his firm. The first song they recorded together was "Trenchtown Rock". It was the number one in the Jamaican charts over one summer. The song was about life and suffering in the Ghetto. Then the group continued recording for their lable and got attention from Chris Blackwell, the owner of Island Records. The first album for Island Records was 'Catch A Fire'.  In 1973 they recorded their next album 'Burnin''. One of the
famous songs of it was 'I shot the Sheriff'. This song was also covered from Eric Clapton in 1974.
Internal differences caused the departure of Bunny and Peter in 1975. After that a new group continued, included Bob Marley, the Barrett brothers and Bernard 'Touter' Harvey on keyboards, with vocal harmonies by the I-Threes, comprising Marcia Griffith, Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt. Bob and the I-Thees released one album a year until his death.

2.7 His death
In July 1977 Bob had an operation in Miami to remove cancer cells from his right toe. But in the summer of 1980 his cancer began to spred. He collapsed at Madison Square Garden during a concert. Late in the 1980 he met Dr. Josef Issels, an specialist for cancer. But in May the doctor had to give up. At the 11.05.1981 Bob Marley died in a hospital in Miami. He was 36 when he lost his fight against his braincanser. At that time he was one of the famous musicians and

everybody liked him.
The funeral procession to his burial in Nine Miles was eighty kilometers long. Bob Marley left millions of fans all over the world, the Rasta-movement in Jamaica, about 30 Mio. US-Dollar, nine children, three of them from his wife Rita. A statue in the Park of Glory near the national stadium in Kingston lets everybody remind of Bob Marley, with his long dread locks and his guitar. Nobody will forget him because his life goes on in his songs.
3. The analyse of the song 'Get Up, Stand Up'
To get an impression of Bob Marley’s songs, one of them should be analysed more detailled. The song ‘Get up, Stand up’ is chosen as a song which stands exemplary for many political songs of Bob Marley.

3.1 The text of the song
Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right (3 times) Get Up, stand Up, don't give up the fight Preacher man don't tell me heaven is under the earth I know you don't know what life is really worth Is not all that glitters in gold and Half the story has never been told So now you see the light, aay Stand up for your right. Come on Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight (Repeat) Most people think great god will come from the sky Take away everything and make everybody feel high But if you know that life is worth You would look for yours from earth And now you see the light You stand up for your right, yeah! Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight Get Up, Stand Up. Life is your right So we can't give up the fight Stand up for your right, Lord, Lord Get Up, Stand Up. Keep on struggling on Don't give up the fight We're sick and tired of your ism and skism game Die and go to heaven in Jesus' name, Lord We know when we understand Almighty god is a living man You can fool some people sometimes But you can't fool all the people all the time So now we see the light We gonna stand up for your right So you'd better get up, stand up, stand up for your right Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight Get Up, Stand Up, stand up for your right Get Up, Stand Up, don't give up the fight
3.2 The background of the song
In 1976 Bob Marley wrote his song ‘Get Up, Stand Up’. With this song he wanted to open people’s eyes and to evoke their resistance against political and human injustice. He wanted people to fight for their rights and not to give up. Otherwise, he proposed, any sense of life would be lost.
In October of the same year, Michael Manley, the Prime Minister, asked Bob Marley and his band to play in a concert, which should be absolutely unpolitical. After Bob promised to do that, Manley determined the elections to ten days after the concert. When people heard about that, everyone had to think that Bob supported Manley and his party for another period of office. Some time later Bob got first murder threats from fans of the ‚Labour Party’. From now on he, his family and the band had to be protected by a security office called ‘Echo Squard’. On a Friday night, two days before the concert, the security people were missing. Suddenly numerous armed people attacked Bob Marley’s house at Hope Road. Bob was hit in his breast and his wife Rita was shot in her head. But they had good luck and were both still alive. On Sunday the concert took place. Bob played although he did not feel well. On this evening more than 200 people were listening to him for 90 minutes time.
Bob sang his songs with a very serious expression and without any irony. One of the songs was ‚Get Up, Stand Up’. Bob raised his hand and hold it as if he would hold the world in it. Then he shouted out: “Puss and dog, dem get together/ what’s wrong with you my brother/ puss and dog, dem get together/ why can’t we love one another“. He ment: ‘Cat and dog can get on with each other / what’s up with you, my brother / cat and dog can get on with each other / why cannot we love each other?’ Then he teared his shirt off his body so that everyone could see his wounds from the attacks.
3.3 Analysis of the song with regard to the content
In his song ‚Get up, Stand up’ Bob Marley directly spoke to his audience.
In the first chapter of the text he uses the words“ Half the story has never been told”. He means the story about slavery and the driving out. Nobody wanted to talk about that in those days, not in church and not in policy. He says with his words that life is hard but everybody has to fight for a better life instead of believing in false preachers who promise redemption after death (“that heaven is under the earth”). At the end of chapter one he says “So, now you see the light”. Light is the association of JAH (god) for the believers. Bob meant that when you believe in god this will lead you to a better life. But he stated that not only god can handle your life, actually God serves as a guiding light out of darkness for the Believer. You also have to think and “fight for yours on earth”. Nevertheless, god is the light in the night and will lead them to revelation.
In the second chapter he says that most people think that god will come from
the sky and then god will change everything and will make all the people
happy and contented. But if the people would know” what life is really worth” they would look and think about a change of their present situation.
In Marleys Religion god is on the earth right now in the form of Haile
Selassie and he is the messiah and “Light” for Rastafarians. In the third part of the song Bob Marley says “We’re sick and tired of
the ism skism game”. With these words he wants to criticize the political
system, ”ism “ is a term for the (wrong)exploiting system in general, while “skism”, is the patois form of “schism” and points to the division of the Jamaicans in two political groups and maybe even in different religious groups. He says that he does not want to be a part of this game any more, which means that he wants to unite the separated groups again –to fight together to end oppression. He also says “Die and go to heaven in Jesus’ name”. Bob Marley was an Rastafarian and they don’t believe in Jesus to be their redeemer. They believe in god. And for Rastafarians god is in the form of Haile Selassie. Because of this Bob Marley addresses Christians in this part of the song they believe in Jesus and should” go to heaven “after they die, but the Rastafarians will stay on earth because their “heaven” or “holy land” is the land of Selassie ,or at least Africa. Rastafarians do not have to wait until they die to gain redemption or find the Kingdom of Heaven. “You can fool some people sometimes, but can’t fool all the people all the time” is a quotation of Abraham Lincoln.”You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool
some of the people all the time; but you can't fool all of the people all
the time.” With this quotation Bob wants to criticise the political system
again, and he also points out to the future and promises, that at least someday a change will come and people will realize that they have been betrayed for generations by false prophets.
In the Refrain he calls upon the people to stand up for their rights and to fight for their rights.
4. Comment
Now we know a lot about Bob Marley and what was important for him in his life.
It was difficult to combine all the facts to a complete story about him. In fact it is not possible to take account of every detail. But this piece of work try to emphasize the most important points of Bob Marley’s Biography an especially to make clear the background of his music.
Reggae music, often seen as a sunny friendly music, is – as we know now – very political.
List of references
Pinck, Axel: Jamaika. DuMont Buchverlag. Köln 1998.
Faristzaddi, Millard: itations of jamaica and i Rastafari. Judah Anbesa. Miami 1987.
Colin Larkin: The Virgin encyclopedia of Reggae. Virgin Books. London 1998.
Bruce W. Talamon: Bob Marley. Spirit Dancer. Schirmer/Mosel. München 1995.

Declaration of independence
Herewith I declare that I did this work on my own without anybody’s help and I also state that I gave you all the references I used to write this.
________________ _________________________________
Table of Contents
Introduction ………………………………………………………. 1
2.1 Jamaica - the origin country of Bob Marley………………….. 1-2
2.2 The Jamaican population………………………………………… 2-3
2.3 His Childhood……………………………………………………… 4
2.4 His Youth…………………………………………………………… 4
2.5 His way to the music business……………………………….…. 5
2.6 Bobs breakthrough………………………………………………… 6
2.7 His death…………………………………………………………….. 7
3. The analyse of the song 'Get Up, Stand Up’ …………………… 7
3.1 The text of the song ………………………………………………… 7-8
3.2 The background of the song……………………………………… 9
3.3 Analysis of the song with regard to the content ……………… 10
4. Comment ………………………………………………………………. 11
5. List of references……………………………………………………… 12
6. Declaration of independence……………………………………….. 13
Main source: Pinck, Axel: Jamaika. DuMont Buchverlag. Köln 1998. pp.33-36
Main source: Pinck, Axel: Jamaika. DuMont Buchverlag. Köln 1998. pp.52-53
Main source: Faristzaddi, Millard: itations of jamaica and i Rastafari. Judah Anbesa. Miami 1987.
Main source:
Main source: Colin Larkin: The Virgin encyclopedia of Reggae. Virgin Books. London 1998. pp. 181-183
Main source: Colin Larkin: The Virgin encyclopedia of Reggae. Virgin Books. London 1998. pp. 181-183
Main source: Pinck, Axel: Jamaika. DuMont Buchverlag. Köln 1998. pp.74,75
Main source: Bruce W. Talamon: Bob Marley. Spirit Dancer. Schirmer/Mosel. München 1995. pp. 20/21
JAH is patois and means god
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