I’ve been wanting to do another one of my artist deep dives, wherein I listen to every album by an artist I know only casually. My first three deep dives covered Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and Madonna. I found all three very rewarding.
I’ve settled on Bob Marley for the next one, which kicks off today. Apart from the mega-selling greatest hits collection Legend, I have never heard a Marley album all the way through, and I’m excited to learn more about the man and his music.
Along with The Wailers, Marley released 13 studio albums between 1965 and 1983. I’ll feature songs from each of them over the next three weeks.
Born in Jamaica in 1945, Bob Marley started his musical journey as a teenager, when he and close friend (and later stepbrother) Bunny Waller lived in the same Trenchtown house and obsessed over both local artists and the songs they heard on American radio. They teamed up with fellow teen Peter Tosh and formed a vocal band called the Teenagers.
The group tried out other names, including the Wailing Rudeboys and the Wailing Wailers, before settling on the Wailers.
The Wailer’s first album, 1965’s The Wailing Wailers, compiles some of the group’s best recordings from 1964 and 1965, when they were accompanied by Studio One backing band The Soul Brothers. The label released a dozen of those tracks on what would become Bob Marley’s debut release.
The Wailing Wailers is a distinctly lo-fi recording, which is part of its charm. It’s the sound of three men shy of their 20th birthdays trying their hand at embodying the doo-wop, R&B and soul records they loved.
You don’t hear much of the reggae sound Marley and the Wailers would revolutionize, and it’s interesting to hear a Stax-ified early version of future classic ‘One Love.’ Marley’s vocals here sound more like the work of a Motown crooner, a style I’ve never associated with him.
Listening to him sweetly delivering today’s SOTD has me wondering what his career would have looked like in an alternate universe where he became the next Sam Cooke rather than the first Bob Marley.
I’m still waiting
I’m still waiting
I’m still waiting for you
Why, oh why? Why, oh why?
I said-a my feet won’t keep me up anymore
Well, every little beat my heart beats, girl
It’s at-a your door
I just want to love you
And I’m never gonna hurt you, girl
So why won’t you come out to me now, girl?
Oh, can’t you see I’m under your spell?
But I got to – got to go
Why, girl? Oh why, girl? Oh!
Woah, my gosh, the rain is fallin’
And I just can’t stop callin’
And I just can’t tell the raindrops
From my teardrops
Falling down my face
Mm, look at it, yeah!
It isn’t really raindrops
(I’m still waiting) Teardrops falling down my face
(I’m still waiting)
(I’m still waiting) I’m still waitin’
(I’m still waiting) Yes, I will
I wait in the rain, I wait in the sun
Please, relieve me from these pains
Oh pains, just pains
I love you, yes I do
But tell me, do you really love me, too?
Does the one who loves really, really care?