Bob Marley: How many rivers do we have to cross?

Bob Marley:  Highlighting the plight of the poor and the downpressed through music

This morning I woke up in a curfew
O God, I was a prisoner, too – yeah
Could not recognize the faces standing over me
They were all dressed in uniforms of brutality.

How many rivers do we have to cross
Before we can talk to the boss?
All that we got, it seems we have lost
We must have really paid the cost.

That’s why we gonna be
Burnin’ and a-lootin’ tonight
Say we gonna burn and loot
Burnin’ and a-lootin’ tonight
One more thing
Burnin’ all pollution tonight
Oh, yeah, yeah
Burnin’ all illusion tonight.

Oh, stop them, give me the food and let me grow
Let the roots man take a blow
All them drugs gonna make you slow now
It’s not the music of the ghetto

Weeping and a-wailin’ tonight
Who can stop the tears?
Weeping and a-wailin’ tonight
We’ve been suffering these long, long-a years
Weeping and a-wailin’ tonight
Will you say cheer?
Weeping and a-wailin’ tonight
But where?

Give me the food and let me grow
Let the root man take a blow
I say: all and all them drugs gonna make you slow
It’s not the music of the ghetto.

We gonna be burning and a-looting tonight;
To survive, yeah
Burning and a-looting tonight
Save your baby lives
Burning all pollution tonight
Pollution, yeah, yeah
Burning all illusion tonight
Lord-a, Lord-a, Lord-a, Lord-a Lord

Burning and a-looting tonight
Burning and a-looting tonight
Burning all pollution tonight

Reggae Message:

2 thoughts on “Bob Marley: How many rivers do we have to cross?

  1. Bob Marley was not only a reggae singer and musician. He was also a poet, a composer, producer, entrepreneur, a philosopher and above all else a humanitarian.

    Indeed, these diverse caps that he wore throughout his short 36 years on this earth were and are manifest not only in his many reggae songs but also in his many interviews given to the press all over the world including in his beloved Jamaica.

    His songs such as “Get Up, Stand Up”, “Simmer Down”, “Crazy Baldhead”, “Burnin’ and Lootin” “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry )”,”Redemption Song”, “Rat Race”, “I Shot the Sheriff”, “No Woman No Cry” and “Revolution” unquestionably were social commentaries about the plight and resistance of poor and working people in ghettoes in Trench Town in Jamaica and similar places around the world like Los Angeles and Chicago in the US, London and Bristol in Britain, Dakar in Senegal, Harare in Zimbabwe and elsewhere where all kinds of injustices were and still are manifest.

    Thus the themes of Bob’s songs resonated and still do with hundreds of millions of people across cultures, religions, ethnicities and geography because the experiences of poor and working people are generally the same or similar whether in Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Peru ,Senegal or the US.

    Bob’s songs are therefore not only universal in carrying the message of poor and working people but in doing so with compassion and intense passion from Trench Town, Jamaica to all corners of the world. In this regard, Bob was not solely a terrific reggae ambassador, he was more importantly an internationalist who used reggae music to connect the common struggles and aspirations of all peoples against what he commonly called ‘Babylon.” He tells us in “Babylon System” that “Babylon system is for vampire, falling empire, sucking the blood of the sufferer.” In other words for Bob Marley, “Babylon system” was an oppressive system which made the lives of suffering people or “sufferers” unbearably difficult.

    Thus, as an internationalist reggae star, he chanted down “Babylon” all over the world where he performed for his millions of fans on all continents.

    However, it is very important to underscore that though Bob was an internationalist singer who performed for all peoples with the same passion and love, he was especially concerned with the plight and suffering of Africans all over the world as he lyrically expressed in songs like “Africa Unite”, “War” and “Zimbabwe.”

    The undisputed King of Reggae was also a romantic and so he sang some memorable love songs like “Is this Love”, “I’m Hurting Inside”, “Pimper’s Paradise” and “Turn Your Light Down Low”,”Mellow Mood” and “Stay With Me” to warm the hearts of lovers globally as he celebrates the love of black people as well as people everywhere.

    However, above all else, Bob Marley was an unapologetic soldier of Peace and Justice who understood that peace between the peoples of the earth was impossible without the correction of the injustices created by “Babylon’s system”globally.

    Thus to really honor Bob Marley, it is incumbent on all of us who truly love and appreciate him to embrace the powerful themes of freedom, Justice, peace, love and revolution, that he sang about in his beautiful songs. We must continue his lyrical struggles to structurally change “Babylon system” so as to “set the captives free.”

    Happy 71st Birthday Bob Marley!

    “We more than sands on seashore we more than numbers” Wake Up and Live

    “Some people are so poor that all they have is money” Bob Marley

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