Kristina Johnson English 190 6/5/2009 Redemption Song Redemption Song was the last song recorded and released before Bob Marley died. It is a perfect example of the way Marley used his music to bring people together and inspire change. Marley was committed to teaching his people how to help each other and leading them out of a world of repression and despair. The song begins with a direct reference to the Middle Passage slave trade that helped form Jamaica. Within the song, he shifts from the past centuries of oppression and talks about the mental slavery still present long after physical slavery has disappeared. It is the various forms of mental slavery that are doing a similarly hurting the global community and the Rastafarians who suffer under oppression and hopelessness. Marley makes it clear that is the responsibility of those who suffer to take the steps necessary to liberate themselves. In the first video, we see Marley in an acoustic session spreading his message to other Jamaicans; he is trying to tell them that their lives could be better, and to get better they will have to do the work themselves. In the Ziggy Marley/Chieftans video for Redemption song, we see a larger group of men who have come together under the same cause. Clearly, the problem of mental slavery is not limited to Jamaica, but affects other parts of the globe. Ireland was oppressed for most of written history by one group or another, and when they finally achieved freedom, it was soon after taken away because the people could not stop fighting each other. Britain took control of Ireland, and began making all of its decisions for the people instead of allowing them to decide their fate. The people of Ireland were being terrorized because of their religious beliefs; because they could not come to an agreement on their beliefs, they lost almost all control over their country. After centuries of fighting for independence, the Irish lost it again in a matter of decades. This song inspires reform and tolerance. It asks people to unite so that all may stop suffering, but points out that it is the people themselves who must do the work. In the video from New York, we see the same sort of theme; dedicated to a punk legend, graffiti artists deface a wall in broad daylight to pay tribute to a man who demanded more power for the people. It spits in the face of the governing body and shows that it is the individuals who make the difference. Perhaps the Joe Strummer/Mescaleros video was placed in New York after 9/11 because of the controversy surrounding 9/11. The government admitted that they knew of the attack, but did nothing to prevent it in advance. There are many conspiracy theories surrounding the whole mess, but a huge offense stimulate by this event was the Patriot Act. It allows the government to spy and record all Americans’ private lives, i.e. phone calls, internet use, etc, without telling the citizens that they are being watched. Individual liberty is being disrespected as the government tightens its control over the people. People of Middle Eastern descent are all deemed suspicious persons without just reason. Joe Strummer would have strongly opposed all of this. This song tells individuals to rise up and take control of their own lives for the better. Perhaps I interpret the videos this way because I see a common thread throughout each era and each video. Each video was made at a time when the people were being oppressed in one form or another. Each video laments the loss of control and asks for some solution. Each group making the video fought long and hard to gain that freedom again, and some are still fighting. Each video calls to a larger audience than the last in its demand for reform. These videos all show a grassroots movement rising up against a much larger enemy, but not losing courage in its face.
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