Bob Marley – New Zealand Interview 1979

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Like many Rastas, Bob Marley talks in a thick Jamaican Patois, which at times, is difficult to understand. He starts out talking about Reggae Music.

[Bob:]
Yeah, Jamaican people play it. It’s like… Musicians from Jamaica play that music, you know? Like Musicians from – you might find Black Musicians from America play the Funk or Blues, you know? People down here play Reggae Music.

[Interviewer:]
Can it be copied quite successfully outside of Jamaica?

Bob:
Well, you know, the way I feel about the music… It can be copied you know. But, it’s not copied direct... It’s the feel. You know? It carry a feel. If you ask plenty musicians… Them know it – but them can’t do it. So people still searching for this truth here, which this Reggae music you know, bring cross to them. And the only purpose it serve is to tell the people about Rastafari.

Interviewer:
Did you always intend being just a Reggae Musician or had you played Rock music and Soul music before?

[Bob Marley:]
In a sense. Me really used to listen to a lot of music, you know? I mean first time… Used to listen to music that play on the radio. We couldn’t afford to buy records so we listened to the Radio, and anything the radio play is that we hear. So I wasn’t really into them thing, I was really into like – they call it spiritual music. You know? ‘Cause it got me revolutionized. You know?

[Interviewer:]
How long have you been a Rasta?

[Bob Marley:]
Well I’ve been a Rasta from ever since. You know? But it’s not how long you’ve been a Rasta, it’s how long it take you to grow – because what you is – is what you is. From beginning to the end. You can never change, ‘cause if you even adopt things later – your own fate ah write out. So we ah just Rasta from creation, you know? It’s not an easy thing to explain. We’ve got educated standards and we still have people who can’t do it. But me ah common sense man, that mean when we explain things we explain it very, very simple way that me explain to a baby. The baby’ll understand too, you know? So we ah say now, like the Bible. The Bible say, God say he shall return as the King of King, the Lord of Lords, The Conqueror, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and him shall come in a new name. And his new name shall be dreadful among the heathen.

[Interviewer:]
How important are the Dreadlocks?

[Bob Marley:]
This? (pointing to the dreads) This is my identity man. Yeah this is my identity.

[Interviewer:]
Do you have to have dreadlocks if you are a Rasta?

[Bob Marley:]
Well if you Rasta then you wouldn’t say why you shouldn’t have it, because you know freedom is freedom and you don’t have to bow you do whatever you like. But it’s not a thing to say, “I wouldn’t like to be a Rasta because I wouldn’t like to have this” You dig? It can’t be a thing like that. That would be a foolish thing. You yourself know that it’s God create I and I don’t want no life no obligation. That means you’re your own man, that’s the first time you hold yourself. You do what you want to do. Anything people want to say about you - you don’t care because… you know what I mean? Even then we still have a comeback … (inaudible)

[Narrator:]
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Rastafarianism is the use of Marijuana as a central part of the philosophy. Officially named Ganja, it’s colloquially described by the Rastas as ‘herb,’ and Bob Marley is said to smoke a pound a week. It’s outlawed in Jamaica, and a convicted smoker can expect an 18 month jail sentence.

[Bob Marley:]
The more you accept herb is the more you accept Rastafari. You hear what me ah say? Me who accept herb… Herb is important, but herb is more important to the people who no accept it yet because that is the reality. I mean, we not selling them something that you crave but… It make sense and me say. Herb – Herb is a plant. I mean, Herb so good for everything. Why these people who want to do so much good for everyone, who call themselves government and this and that – why them say you must never use the herb? You see? And we take that and we can’t find... we just see them just say, ‘no you must not use it because it makes you rebel.’ Against what? Against men own crave, because them crave for the things like... say them have some material things and them want fi captivate your mind and tell you say, ‘well you have to work, and we’ll put you on pension,’ and them keep it all. So Herb make you look upon yourself and… Instead of you want to work for ‘Di Man’ you want fi be one of the Man too. Not in the sense of how him is, but in the sense that, ‘why should you have to bow to these things?’

[Interviewer:]
Do you have to smoke to be a Rasta?

[Bob Marley:]
No man. But – in this time, I mean like, how you stance… You reaching a sense where you strong enough, can take a little smoke (makes smoking animation) Sound of all them car a pass… although you live in a city you don’t hear it. Because you’re thinking. Your friend leave you just live so. You know, the whole world confuse you and you worried and you don’t have no time to think. Herb is a ting that give a little time to yourself so you can live. If you use it.

[Interviewer:]
What about Alcohol?

[Bob Marley:]
Alcohol make you drunk man. It don’t make you meditate it just make you drunk. When you drink alcohol you don’t meditate – you’re more giddy-headed. Herb is a consciousness.

[Interviewer:]
It must create problems for you though, when you go to different parts of the world, where perhaps it’s ‘outlawed’ as it were.

[Bob Marley:]
Well it’s just like what we are saying... It’s that I don’t care. You see the people who make it outlawed is but a few. Majority a people ‘pon the earth want it. It’s just a few, because guns and prisons and bad life treat you bad, so people kinda… But me want some people power… And the only people power is Rastafari.

[Narrator:]
Essentially, Marley’s a quiet man, a difficult man to reach because he’s got no interest in the hype vibe, which preoccupies so many rock stars. He upset many New Zealand interviewers by refusing interviews. Not because of a sudden whim, but because really, he isn’t interested in that type of thing.

[Bob Marley:]
Media. If I were in the Newspaper, I would do a lot of interviews, because what I want to say I would get it across. But when you talk to someone, you have to go to someone, and it must be healthy for their business. And if it too militant, them try fi spread a type of propaganda. You know the media (laughs) … Control.

[Interviewer:]
You were badly hurt once because of what seemed to be some political-type shooting in your home country, Jamaica. Do you see dabbling in Politics a good idea for someone in your position?

[Bob Marley:]
Well… You say dabble in Politics? I don’t know what that is. You say stand up and talk fi my rights? I know that that is. See? And I don’t care who the guy is… because my right is my right. Like my life. You know? All I have is my life. That means that I can say I don’t want that or I don’t want this. When I check it out, the biggest man was a baby one time, so I don’t know when [they] get all of these big ideas, want to be ruler, want people, and help enforce ‘devilism.’ Can’t dig it. Can’t take it. Me a rebel man. Me a revolutionist.

[Interviewer:]
Is that the way you see yourself?

[Bob Marley:]
Yeah me see myself as a revolutionary, who don’t have no help. And nah take no bribe from no one, meh fight it single-handed. The music. Rasta is the future. See? (laughs) Rasta is the future.

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