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In Bob we trust
Niall Stokes' classic 1978 conversation with Bob Marley...
Niall Stokes, 16 Mar 1978
There is nothing as anthemic as ‘Get Up, Stand Up’, ‘War’ or even ‘Exodus’ on his new album Kaya. Nowhere does he draw the lines between the righteous and the wrong. He has become a fox, where once he was a lion. He has learned the truth of his own words, "He that fights and runs away/Lives to fight another day". I ask him does his more restrained approach relate to the incident where he was shot at the concert held as part of Prime Minister Michael Manley’s election build-up.
He wants to forget that entirely. There’s no point in reactivating a potentially inflammatory issue. Anyway, he puts his drifts down to tactics. His new albums are more mellow. Possibly more commercial.
“We not really singing more love songs but inviting more people to listen. So we’re not so political. We’re going out on the road, and when we come home and play music to the child, them sing it. We just sing to get them to sing.”
Which is the kind of process that’s involved, only this time on a macroscopic level.
“That means to get more people, you have to take it easy sometime. ‘Easy Skanking’. ‘Is This Love?’ You get more people to listen and then you can say what you want to next time. That’s how we do it anyway.”
Which, you might speculate, is the kind of logic he learned from The Eagles, though the latter had no ultimate vision with which to zap the multitudes. The question is – will Marley retain his, when the hour is at hand?
He adopts the same kind of attitude about exposure in the national press, Britain’s modern equivalent of the penny dreadfuls.
“What is important is that them show Rasta again. This is the thing. Them educate the people to Rasta, ‘cos it is easy for them to do it, ‘cos they are the media. I could never get so many people as when a newspaper come out – all the people who read the newspaper that day read of Rasta. That mean, spiritually a tiny notch get in. That is really a fulfillment! That’s a good reason!!”
He bursts out laughing again.