Bob Marley

Posted: April 4, 2012 in Lyric Analysis, Music Therapy

I’ve been gaining a new appreciation of Bob Marley recently, and it’s all thanks to a client that I’ll be discharging at the end of April.

My history with Bob Marley goes back to college when a practicum group was doing a presentation of a songwriting exercise they did with No Woman No Cry.  It was the first time I had ever heard the song, and everyone in the class was pretty moved by what transpired.  No Woman No Cry later became the first Bob Marley song I learned on guitar, and was the only Bob Marley song I knew for a long time.  After that, I learned Redemption Song.

When I started working with S, he asked for a lot of songs, including Don’t Worry Be Happy, which I had in my repertoire.  But, even after we sang it, he kept asking for Don’t Worry Be Happy by Bob Marley, and DWBH by Bobby McFerrin (which he liked) wasn’t what he wanted.  I looked deeper, and found the song Three Little Birds, which has the following chorus:

Don’t worry about a thing
Cause every little thing is gonna be all right
Singin’ don’t worry about a thing
Cause every little thing is gonna be all right

That turned out to be exactly what S was asking for.  He started asking for more Bob Marley music.  I brought out Redemption Song, which he was kind of so so on, and No Woman No Cry, which he didn’t like at all.  So I left the lyrics for NWNC with him for a week, telling him to listen to it on YouTube because I thought he would like it if he knew it better (a common theme in sessions – he only liked songs he knew, he didn’t care for songs he didn’t know).

The next week, he liked it a little better.  The next week, even better.  Before long, he was asking for it every single session and requesting more Bob Marley music.  I finally went out and made a CD of a bunch of Bob Marley tunes, and he ate it up.  He uses it all the time in his coping skills practice, and it’s easy to see why – it’s very chill music.  It was the first time I’d really made an effort to seek out more Marley stuff, and he’s got some great tunes – some of my new favorites are One Love, Coming In From the Cold, Jamming, and Could You Be Loved.

Yesterday, as we were singing No Woman No Cry, I got to thinking more about the meaning of the song.  I haven’t ever really done a lyric analysis on it since there’s so much Jamaican to it, and that can confuse people – I have had that problem with doing lyric analysis on Redemption Song.  But considering that S is being discharged at the end of the month, my mind was probably in the right place to really connect with the meaning of No Woman No Cry – it’s a song about saying goodbye.  If you look at the lyrics (linked to here), you’ll see that the verses are all about memories of times gone by, and looking ahead bravely to the future.  The refrain is an appeal to stay strong, and there’s even a reassuring chorus of “everything’s gonna be all right.

For these reasons, I think No Woman No Cry is a perfect song to close out our time together.  In fact, I may be using it in future sessions where I need to facilitate closure.  But, beyond that, I’ve become a bigger appreciator of Bob Marley’s work.  I think I may have avoided him for so long because of his association with the drug culture out there.  But there’s some phenomenal music in his catalog, music that can touch you emotionally and spiritually.  I’d recommend everyone to check him out sometime.  I know I’ll be looking more into his work from here on out.  Thanks for reading!



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