When Bob Marley passed away, I was really too young to get the significance of the musical gut punch that was thrown. I don’t think I even realized he was dead, until many years later, when I saw him on tv and asked about the man wiling out on stage and my mother told me that he had been dead. I was just kind of sad about it, as I would have been upon hearing of anyone’s death, but I was not really affected, because I was still really young and did not get it. I only really understood the contribution this man-made, when I got into my early twenties and that was when I became genuinely sad, that he was no longer living. Then of course curiosity set in and I started purchasing and downloading his music. The more I heard, the more I loved and appreciated. To think he produced all of those songs even though he had died so young, is truly remarkable. Makes me wonder what masterpieces could have been dropped had he been still alive.
In my twenties, technology was on my side, so I was able to get a ridiculous amount of information on him, besides just his music. I even saw a few documentaries and the more I saw and read, the more intriguing he became. There were a couple of things however, that kind of made me question his character, even though I thought he was a prophetic musician. Most questionable of course, was his realtionshit(p) with his wife Rita. What used to kind of irritate me about the numerous documentaries I’d seen, was that they tended to gloss over the deeper aspects of his character and focus on the puffy fluffy stuff, that most people already knew. I suppose it was to keep this mythical image of him in tact, and I hated that. I especially hated that, because by then, I was a woman who had experienced the pain of infidelity in her own life and seen what it could really do to a family, so I had a hard time swallowing the bullshit. I was kind of on the fence about how I felt about Bob Marley the man. His music was his music, and lyrically and musically, it just gets better and better every time I hear it, but all of his experiences were what contributed to the type of musician he was, so I really wished to understand more about that part of his life and his wife’s feelings, considering that she was such an important part of it and his music. She was the only one besides him, that was there from the beginning, to the end of his life and I always wondered what it was like from her perspective, to be with a man who could seem so disciplined and hardworking, yet so reckless and at times selfish.
My son Xion, who thinks he’s Bob Marley part two, reignited my interest in Marley, about a year ago. While watching Tempo, they began to show one of his concerts, and my child went batshit crazy singing and dancing. From since then, if Bob Marley is on the tv, the channel cannot be changed, or he will have a fit. One day I am on-line, looking at some Catch a Fire Clothing and clicking all over. A pop up window appeared, and when I clicked to get rid of it, I ended up on a link with Rita Marley’s book, about her life with Bob. I was like, this should be interesting. I didn’t even know that she had written a book about it. I then went to Amazon.com and saw the collection of books written about him. The one by her and then a few others, by other folks. I checked the reviews and then decided that hers would be the one that would be the most interesting to me. I called the local book store here in Antigua, but unfortunately, they did not have it in stock. I was told that they could order it for me, so I told them that I would call them back. A few weeks passed and I called back hoping that they had ordered a few copies just to stock the shelves, but they hadn’t. So I decided that I would go in and pay them to order a copy especially for me. Before I made my order, I went back on-line did some searching for specific reviews of No Woman No Cry, and lo and behold, I saw a review from a friend, and fellow writer, Joanne Hillhouse. I was like, shit! She’s read the book, that could mean that she has a copy! I was very excited and I called her right away. Thank the heavens, she did indeed still have a copy. I went to her house the very next day and picked it up, as well as another book, that I will speak about a blog or two from now. (I’m very excited about that book too.)
When I got home, I could not wait to get into it. I got the kids fed and ready for bed, did whatever tidying up I needed to do, then they went into my bedroom, to relax and watch Spongebob and I went into my son’s room, which I thought was quite fitting, as he got my Bob Marley interest peaked all over again.
I had only intended to read a few chapters, but I just could not but the damn book down. It was a page turner and even though I was reading about things that I had known already, It was told in such a way, that I was finally able to understand. What I loved about this book, was that Rita Marley did not try to paint herself with a victim brush, and Bob Marley with a bad husband brush. She talked about their connection from the beginning and you could truly feel the love they had for each other. There were parts where I actually had tears coming out of my eyes, especially when she talked about her loneliness, or when she was defiant and refused to live at 56 Hope Rd, which is now the Bob Marley Museum, and decided to raise her children, even some of the ones that he’d had with other women, in Bull Bay.
I think initially, before I read the book, I was like, this woman is delusional. How could she put up with that? But I don’t think she PUT up with anything. She was extremely strong and focused on her children and herself. Though she loved him dearly, she did not allow him to walk all over her. I found it very funny, that even though he was the philanderer, he was quite jealous where she was concerned. As far as Bob was concerned, Rita was his woman and his wife and nothing and no one could ever break them. He was the one determined to be married, because he thought that when he was initially going to move away from her at the beginning of their relationship, that some other men would try to court her, and if he was just merely her boyfriend, she may have moved on from him. When I was done reading this book, I felt as if I had actually been there and I closed the back cover, having had most of my questions in regards to their relationship answered. I never put that book down until I was finished at about 1:30 the next morning. It was so good, I’m still going to get my own copy and return this copy to its rightful owner, ‘before she haffi call police fi meh.’ Before I do though, I will re-read it again. Yes! It was that good. 😀 I have nothing but respect and admiration for Rita Marley. The book was indeed an eye opener, and any Bob Marley fan or not, would love it.
The funny thing about learning more about that aspect of his life, was that I did not put the book down, thinking any less of him. I did not like a lot of the things she was put through because of his wandering ways, but I never got the sense that his actions came from a malicious place. He always seemed to be there to support her financially,whenever she really needed him and he seemed to be a loving father. All of those other complications from his infidelities are not for me to understand anyway. They are a family, and he did produce a brood of children that all seem loving, successful and supportive of each other, regardless of who their mother was, so who am I to judge?
When Bob Marley passed away, his image was not what it is today. He did not die and leave millions of dollars for his family, like a lot of people think, or thought. If it had not been for Rita’s hard work, his musical legacy might have been very different, but she indeed saw a much bigger picture and she deserves nothing but respect for what she has accomplished.
I have yet to see the Bob Marley Documentary, that was released yesterday on April 20th. I was quite disappointed, as I expected to watch it on facebook. However, when I clicked the link, I got a message which said, not available to your region, or some bullshit like that. (rolls eyes). I was more than a little annoyed, because for sure, I thought it would have been available to all of the Caribbean immediately. Any how, I did some research, and I see that Caribbean Cinemas will be showing it from the 26th, so I will definitely make the effort to go and see it. I am very glad however, that I was able to read her book first, to get that perspective. This documentary is one that is actually supported by the Marley family, so I believe that it will not be the usual glossed over stuff, that I have seen in the past. But I’ll see.