Song of the Day #5,080: ‘War’ – Bob Marley and the Wailers

Bob Marley released his eighth studio album, Rastaman Vibration, in 1976. The album gave him his first top ten placement on the Billboard 200, and produced his only single to crack the Billboard Hot 100, in ‘Roots, Rock, Reggae.’

Commercial success aside, this is an odd album, split between steely-eyed calls for revolution in the face of injustice and forgettable love songs. Playful synthesizers butt up against hard-edged electric guitars, giving Rastaman Vibration a split personality both lyrically and musically.

Interestingly, both Pete Tosh and Bunny Waller also released albums this year, and theirs received even more critical acclaim than this one. So Marley’s most successful moment commercially was also a bit of a creative slump.

Rastaman Vibration does feature at least one of Marley’s best recordings. ‘War’ sets the text of a 1963 United Nations speech by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie to music, with Marley delivering the message with his signature flair.

In 1992, during a controversial Saturday Night Live appearance, Sinéad O’Connor performed this song before tearing up a picture of Pope John Paul II.

[Verse 1]
Until the philosophy which hold one race
Superior and another Inferior
Is finally
And permanently
And abandoned
Everywhere is war
Me say war

[Verse 2]
That until there are no longer
First-class and second-class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man’s skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes
Me say war

[Verse 3]
That until the basic human rights
Are equally guaranteed to all
Without regard to race
Dis a war

[Verse 4]
That until that day
The dream of lasting peace
World citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued
But never attained
Now everywhere is war

[Verse 5]
And until the ignoble and unhappy regime
That hold our brothers in Angola
In Mozambique
South Africa
Sub-human bondage
Have been toppled
Utterly destroyed
Well, everywhere is war
Me say war

War in the east
War in the west
War up north
War down south

[Verse 6]
War, war
Rumors of war
And until that day
The African continent
Will not know peace
We Africans will fight, we find it necessary
And we know we shall win
As we are confident
In the victory
Of good over evil

Good over evil, yeah!
Good over evil
Good over evil, yeah!
Good over evil
Good over evil, yeah!

One thought on “Song of the Day #5,080: ‘War’ – Bob Marley and the Wailers

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    So this is what Sinead tried to sing during that SNL appearance? Interesting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.