"Redemption Song" is a song by Bob Marley. It is the final track on Bob Marley & the Wailers' ninth album, Uprising, produced by Chris Blackwell and released by Island Records. The song is considered one of Marley's greatest works. Some key lyrics derived from a speech given by the Pan-Africanist orator Marcus Garvey entitled "The Work That Has Been Done".
|Single by Bob Marley and the Wailers|
|from the album Uprising|
|B-side||"Redemption Song" (Band version)
"I Shot the Sheriff" (Live)
|Producer(s)||Bob Marley, Chris Blackwell|
At the time he wrote the song, circa 1979, Bob Marley had been diagnosed with the cancer in his toe that later took his life. According to Rita Marley, "he was already secretly in a lot of pain and dealt with his own mortality, a feature that is clearly apparent in the album, particularly in this song".
"Redemption Song" was released as a single in the UK and France in October 1980, and included a full band rendering of the song. This version has since been included as a bonus track on the 2001 reissue of Uprising, as well as on the 2001 compilation One Love: The Very Best of Bob Marley & The Wailers. Although in live performances the full band was used for the song the solo recorded performance remains the take most familiar to listeners.
With Bob accompanying himself on Guitar, "Redemption Song" was unlike anything he had ever recorded: an acoustic ballad, without any hint of reggae rhythm. In message and sound it recalled Bob Dylan. Biographer Timothy White called it an 'acoustic spiritual' and another biographer, Stephen Davis, pointed out the song was a 'total departure', a deeply personal verse sung to the bright-sounding acoustic strumming of Bob's Ovation Adamas guitar.— James Henke, author of Marley Legend
Meaning and influenceEdit
The song urges listeners to "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery," because "None but ourselves can free our minds." These lines were taken from a speech given by Marcus Garvey in Nova Scotia during October 1937 and published in his Black Man magazine:
We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind ...
In 2017 "Redemption Song" was featured in series 25 of BBC Radio 4's Soul Music, a documentary series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal, with contributors including Marley's art director Neville Garrick, Jamaican Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison, Grammy Award-winning artist John Legend, and Wailers guitarist Don Kinsey.
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- Manfred Mann's Earth Band covered the song on their 1982 album Somewhere in Afrika and on the next year's live album Live Budapest.
- Stone Roses lead singer Ian Brown performed "Redemption Song" on the "In the studio" demo tapes
- Jackson Browne performed an acoustic version at the 1995 opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that was released on the all-star album Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- English R&B girl group Eternal covered the song on their 1995 album Power of a Woman.
- American metal band Life of Agony included a cover of this with Keith Caputo on vocals as a bonus track on their 1995 album Ugly.
- American singer Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band has covered the song several times.
- In 1995, the skate punk band No Use for a Name covered this song on their third album, ¡Leche con Carne!.
- In 1995, the argentinian band Attaque 77 recorded a cover in Spanish of the song on their album Amén!
- Live cover by Boris Grebenshikov of Aquarium at various concerts.
- A rare cover recorded by Stevie Wonder was included on his 1996 compilation Stevie Wonder - Song Review: Greatest Hits.
- Irish folk music band The Chieftains recorded a cover with Bob Marley's son, Ziggy Marley, on their 2002 album The Wide World Over: A 40 Year Celebration.
- Joe Strummer, formerly of The Clash, and The Mescaleros recorded a version on their last album Streetcore not long before Strummer's death in 2002. The track featured producer Rick Rubin on melodica and piano. Rubin also produced a version with Strummer and Johnny Cash for Cash's posthumous box set, Unearthed.
- In 2005, Serbian rock band Bajaga i Instruktori covered the song with Serbian singer Bebi Dol on their eight studio album Šou počinje u ponoć. The song was called Pesma Slobode
- In 2005, Brazilian singer Zizi Possi covered the song on her live album Para Inglês Ver... E Ouvir.
- In 2006, Chris Cornell played a version on his live album, freely available for download. Nine years later, he sang the song in a live performance with his 11-year-old daughter, Toni.
- Norwegian musicians Trygve Seim and Frode Haltli perform a version of the song for soprano saxophone and accordion on their 2008 album Yeraz (ECM Records).
- In 2007, this song was featured for the movie I Am Legend (Film) along with other Bob Marley Songs
- In 2009, Angélique Kidjo released a version of the song on the compilation album Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration.
- The song was a charity cover song by singer Rihanna. It was released for the Hope for Haiti Now campaign in January 2010. Rihanna also often covers this song on tours.
- In 2011 it was performed by Ben Cotton and Aly Michalka in Hellcats.
- On 30 August 2013, during the first episode of the fourth season of the Dutch version of The Voice, The Voice of Holland, 40-year-old Mitchell Brunings performed his own version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" convincing all four judges of his talent as a singer.
- On December 2013, Paraguayan musician Eulo García uploaded his soulful rendition of the song and he wrote the lyrics in Spanish. The song was named "Canciones libertarias" ("Libertarian songs" in English) and it's available for listening through his soundcloud account (https://soundcloud.com/eulo/canciones-libertarias)
- On 2 December 2013, Tessanne Chin covered the song on season 5 of NBC's singing competition, The Voice for the Live Top 6 round. She also performed "Unconditionally" by Katy Perry for the same round.
- On her 2013 Australian tour Alicia Keys, on learning of the passing of Nelson Mandela, sang Redemption Song with John Legend in tribute
- On 17 November 2014, Anita Antoinette covered the song on season 7 of NBC's singing competition, The Voice for the Live Top 12 round.
- On 26 September 2015, Eddie Vedder and Beyoncé covered the song at the Global Citizen Festival in New York.
- On 9 December 2015, Madonna and her son David covered the song during her Rebel Heart Tour concert in Paris, France to pay tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks which took place a few weeks before.
- In 2017, the Argentinian band The Lyons released an acoustic cover of the song.
- Strong, M. C. (1995). The Great Rock Discography. Edinburgh: Canongate Books Ltd. p. 518. ISBN 0-86241-385-0.
- Hagerman, Brent (February 2005). "Chris Blackwell: Savvy Svengali". Exclaim.ca. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
- Davis, Henrietta. "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery: The origin and meaning behind Bob Marley's Redemption song". Henrietta Vinton Davis' Weblog. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
- Smith, Ian K. (25 March 2010). "Top 20 Political Songs: Redemption Song". New Statesman. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
- James Henke, Marley Legend: An Illustrated Life of Bob Marley, Tuff Gong Books, 2006, ISBN 0-8118-5036-6, p. 54.
- Henke, Marley Legend (2006), p. 57.
- Black Man, Vol. 3, no. 10 (July 1938), pp. 7–11
- The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, Vol. VII: November 1927–August 1940; ISBN 978-0-520-07208-4. Marcus Garvey, author; Robert A. Hill and Barbara Bair (eds), p. 791.
- Cooke, Mel (6 August 2009). "Mutabaruka's 50 most influential Jamaican recordings - Tosh, Marley dominate top 10". Jamaica Gleaner. Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- "Redemption Song", Series 25, Soul Music, BBC Radio 4.
- "Ian Brown (Stone Roses) Redemption Song". Youtube. 17 March 2011.
- Aquarium Handbook: Redemption Song
- "Pesma Slobode (Bajaga i Instruktori) Redemption Song". YouTube. 16 August 2005.
- "Jon Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah go gospel for "Day"". Reuters. 27 March 2009.
- "Rihanna covers Bob Marley's Redemption song while Simon Cowell gathers Brit singers to raise money for ravaged Haiti". Daily Mail. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- "Mitchell Brunings - Redemption Song". Youtube. 5 October 2013.
- Tessanne Chin nails Bob Marley's tender classic, "Redemption Song."
- Tessanne Chin tackles Katy Perry's "Unconditionally."
- Redemption Song (The Voice Performance) - Single
- "Watch Eddie Vedder, Beyonce Duet on Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song'". Rolling Stone. 2010-01-21. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- "Madonna performs 'Imagine' at impromptu Paris street gig". Toronto Sun. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- Redemption Song by The Lyons - Single