Remembering Bob Marley On His 70th Birthday, From Punk Rock To “Exodus” (Audio)
Bob Marley is being remembered all over the world on what would have been his 70th birthday today (February 6). To celebrate the occasion, Red Bull Music Academy Radio hosted an interview with one of the most qualified people to discuss Bob Marley’s legacy: Vivien Goldman. Vivien is an accomplished author, director, professor, and musician, but in the mid-1970’s she was a music journalist who had access to Bob and his inner circle. She was present for most of the recording sessions for Exodus, and even stayed in Bob Marley’s home (now known as The Bob Marley Museum) just days before the failed assassination attempt on his life.
Vivien delivers some behind-the-scenes knowledge during the 80-minute interview, discussing Bob Marley’s legacy and how his image has changed over generations, knowing Bob personally, the vision behind Exodus, Bob’s relations to the UK and USA, and the house in which the failed assassination attempt took place. The discussion begins with the work put into the Exodus album, and how it was meant to take the listener from darkness and confrontation on Side A to light and positivity on Side B. She also talks about how Bob purposefully made his music simple enough for children to understand before getting into the type of person he was.
Vivien discusses who Bob was as a person, telling a story of how they first met shortly after her father had passed away, and Bob had no reaction due to his beliefs as a Rasta (11:00). She also talks about how he had a serious personality, with a sense of vision behind every song and show he did (15:00).
She talks about the business of selling Bob Marley’s music, and how England had Reggae established in their culture but race relations in America made it more challenging (20:30). They discuss how and why Bob’s concerts in America were mostly all-white audiences, even though he wanted to unite the people with his music (25:00). Vivien then tells a great story about the time she introduced Bob to Punk Rock by playing him The Clash’s cover of “Police and Thieves“, and the economic and cultural factors linking Punk and Reggae (30:30).
After looking at Bob Marley’s legacy as a cultural icon, they get into a long discussion of the musical importance of Exodus, talking about how it saw the development and evolution of Reggae’s identity, and also go into some of Vivien’s favorite Bob Marley songs (44:30). Vivien then talks about how Bob Marley and the Wailers came together as a band, how their parents were the link to their relationship, and also gives the real reasons behind their split (58:00).
The interview then wraps up with Vivien describing 56 Hope Road in Kingston, Jamaica. She compares the political fighting in Kingston back then to the Bloods and Crips in Compton, how Bob made the house available as a peaceful location for the Rastas, and describes the small kitchen where the assassin broke in (66:30). They close the interview with a few words on Bob’s legacy and the message he stood for. The whole interview can be played below: