When I was a kid my Dad used to play an album called Babylon by Bus by Bob Marley and the Wailers.. It was a double vinyl live album recorded in Europe in around 1978.
The Sound that came of that thing was so compelling. Marley had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, the atmosphere was intense and spiritually charged. As a kid I remember staring at the cover, a mock up of a tour bus with the wailers in the front seats.. the wild black men in track suits and denim with dreadlocks and blood shot eyes.. the I threes with their colourful head coverings and some guy call aston “family man” Barrett who apparently had loads of kids..
When I was in my teens one of my best friends Tom took me on a journey of discovering reggae music. We were a bunch of 5 or so. An Ethiopian a Ghanaian a Jamaican British and 2 very white hippy type English boys who were often very green.. Tom schooled us in the ways of skinning up, listening to reggae with the bass all the way up and reasoning together.
Reasoning together was basically philosophising into the early hours.
I remember one night Abbs broke out in prayer, spontaneously thanking God for us all as brothers telling us that he felt God in the room. We were pretty baked at the time, but it was beautiful, I felt something.
It was a strange and uncertain time, all of us searching for identity in a world that we didn’t understand.. We found camaraderie, some sort of belonging.
I began to be drawn to the mysticism of Marley, the unashamed seriousness of belief, his overt mission to change the world through music, the sound his voice was ringing out like a bell in my brain! A voice of clarity amidst the noise of my life. I ingested his lyrics and melodies, I smoked weed every day, knocked alcohol on the head, developed some strange locks in my very straight long hair.. and I began to read the Bible..
Lyrics like, open your eyes and look within are you satisfied with the life you are living?
You’re running away but you can’t run away from your self.
Don’t gain the world and loose your soul, wisdom is better than silver and gold.
Many people will fight you down when you see the light, let me tell you if you’re not wrong then everything is alright.
There’s a natural mystic flowing through the Air, If you listen carefully now you will hear.
So Bob was my guide for a while, through him I found the bible through the Bible I found the Jesus of the Bible to be different than the one I had been presented with as a kid.. I saw a 30 year old long haired Nazarene preacher with fire in his belly, who drew crowds, healed the sick challenged the authorities loved the outcast the down trodden and the sinner… and claimed something that no sane person could claim. Something that Sellasi never claimed. To be the son of God and the only way to the Father..As I read Toms bible in the early hours of the morning the words of John 15 sobered me up pretty quickly.
Some commentaries tell of Marley’s Baptism into the Ethiopian orthadoxed church before his un timely death. And that Selasi sent a bishop to disciple and teach the Rastas in the Caribbean about Jesus.
To understand Rasta you have to look at the horrors of slavery and abuse of the bible by white so called christians.. it is also to know about 2 Moravians who sold themselves into slavery in order to reach black slaves with the gospel. Bob’s amazing rendition of Sellassi’s speech to the united nations. undeniable power and a message for today as much as ever.
I knocked the weed on the head, took up wine, cut off my ratty(not natty) dread locks, Became a family man (but not like Aston) and I work, live and make music to connect people to God…
I’m thankful to God for the amazing musician and songwriter that was Bob Marley. I’m thankful for his guts to speak out for Love and justice.. I thank God that my Dad played me Babylon by bus and that I grew up without an ounce of racism in my bones. He might just have saved my Life;)
One thing is for sure I would never have stepped foot near a Church… but I’m thankful for my way in..
I have met many musicians who have Come to Faith in Jesus through his music, or at very least he was part of the equation.
I believe that God is the God of Everyone not just the Christians.. In the bible paul quots a reasoner from Crete when he sais “in him we live and move and have our being” or in other words “there’s a Natural mystic flowing through the air if you listen carefully now you will hear.”