Beloved, Brother Bob
I have no earthly idea if this comes part and parcel with being dubbed a Legend, but I believe it is a fact, and was much more so convinced of this after a recent trip to St. Croix this past January. I sat in a yard, sunlight long gone, collective minds gathered, wrestling with the midnight hour. It was in this space that a tent had been erected, to serve and offer a bit of shelter, if needed. It was here, where a still-hot grill simmered long after bellies had swelled, and where a coil burned slowly–necessary protection from ravenous mosquitoes.
It was in a space between the outsider and the bystander, that I observed brothers in mourning, their hearts torn by the loss of another brother. There were no words for the grief. They stood stoic, comforting themselves with hands burrowed deeply into pockets and heads bowed. If there were prayers or meditation rights, it was not their words. One brother manned the sound system and blaring from the system was Bob. Brother Bob, as seems most apt here presided, doing what only he could do, talking a talk and chanting a chant about love, hope, strife, rebellion…LIFE and brotherhood.
This gathering over grief occurred nightly for the week I was there. Same brotherhood…Same tent…Same grill…A new coil…and Same Bob giving vent. Not so isolated if you consider the baby showers, christenings, birthdays, fetes, fairs, anniversaries where Bob has been invited and given carte blanche: ‘Do you thing Bob. Make it right. Yes-i!’
Did Bob wish this? Did he envision it in some mystic high? Did he know that through high-grade chant and wail and love virtuosity that we would call him brother, father, prophet and have it not be vanity?
Say what you will, as each man is entitled to his own opinion. I maintain that there is so much virtue wrapped up in Bob that you don’t have to turn yourself inside out to find it, or maintain it. For sure it wasn’t just about the channel of the man, as what passed through that channel of a man and his intended.
Last year I shared my absolute favorite Bob Marley tune: “No Woman Nuh Cry” in the post “Love in the Key of Bob Marley.” I loved it as a woman, like devotion and it is still in heavy rotation. This year, there was something about Punky Reggae Party.
It was released the year I was born (1977). It was the title that made me skip it one time too many on my re-released Legend album (circa 2002). I wasn’t ready to plunge the depths. Another year, another earthday for a Lion of a man makes all the difference in appreciation.
A loss in the death of a brother and friend is no different. The dead remain in memory, strengthened by the refrain of a song and the lick of a lyric surely.
We can’t rewind the clock, and so we must stop and take stock. I bless God for the day that a Nesta Robert Marley was born, the day that he bore sons that carry on, and the day he bore songs that have stood the test of time and minds; and at the best and worst of times, provides an irrefutable soundtrack to life.
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