Bob Marley's Redemption Song - the Canadian connection

February 9, 2014 | Bill V.

Comments (3)

I was listening to Bob Marley's Redemption Song the other day.  I was struck by how different it is from most of his music.  It's only him on acoustic guitar and his singing has an old fashioned blues or spirituals quality to it that I find striking.  It reminds me of the early music by Blind Willie Johnson.

If you want more information about Bob Marley please see this blog post by John P.




"Redemption Song" originally appeared on Uprising and later on Legend and other collections including, for those who have children, Rockabye baby! Lullaby renditions of Bob Marley.


File:Marley film soundtrack.jpg     File:BobMarley-Legend.jpg


We also have many options available in sheet music / score for Bob Marley's music:


Legend the best of Bob Marley and the Wailers.     One love  the very best of Bob Marley & the Wailers.   



Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds."Emancipate yourself from mental slavery," because "None but ourselves can free our minds" Bob Marley Redemption Song the lyrics are partially based on a quotation from Marcus Garvey - there's a Canadian connection to this - see here - February is Black History Month - what are you doing to celebrate this ?

These are the most famous lines / quotation from the song.  It is a paraphrase from a speech that Marcus Garvey gave in Menelik Hall in Whitney Pier / Sydney (often stated as Halifax) Nova Scotia October 1937:

“We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind, because man is related to man under all circumstances for good or ill." 

Google books has much of the original speech available online from the book "The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers" around pages 788-791.

In doing research for this blog post I came across a lot of writing that speaks to how inspirational and important these couple of lines are.



If you are looking to learn more about Marcus Garvey the Library has a wealth of material for adults and kids.



If you're wondering why Black Nationalist / Pan Africanist Marcus Garvey would go to speak in Nova Scotia then you may want to explore the long and rich history of Blacks in Africville and the East coast.   Nova Scotia Black Experience Through the Centuries


If you are looking for more information on Black History Month then you would be very interested in the North York Central Library blog post How Black History Month Became A Canadian Tradition.

If you're interested in the history of Reggae in Toronto you will really enjoy the following Toronto Public Library blog post Research Guide to Reggae Lane: Toronto's Jamaican Music Scene, 1960s to the Present.