Deep in thought

Monday, 14 May 2012

Marley Movie

Having been a Bob Marley fan for 17 years or so I was excited to find out about Marley, a film by Kevin Macdonald that had its international release on April 20th 2012.  The release here in the UK was sporadic with selected cinemas showing it for a week or one night only.  I hadn't banked on being able to catch it at the cinema so when I discovered it was showing late at a local picture house I jumped on a pre-booked ticket faster than I could say One Love!  So after a chaotic day working Ina Babylon I pulled up to the cinema for a two and a half hour treat with one of my all time heroes. A work colleague and friend of mine, Chris, managed to join me as his wife had provided him with "a gate pass" for the evening.  Being of Jamaican origin and having lived in Kingston during the 70's, Chris would be adding his own layers of depth to the movie as it unfolded infront of us in Digital Technicolor.  He provided me with personal insights into what it was like living through the political turmoil of the time and pointed out the legendary policeman known as 'Trinity' in one of the scenes.  Trinity was feared by all the bad men and gangsters of Kingston because apparently he was invincible in a gun fight having somehow survived point blank attacks.  Chris' real claim to fame though was sneaking into Bob's funeral as a young boy against all the odds, leaving his friends out in the metaphorical cold.

But first, when I think back to when I was a young ragamuffin of thirteen leafing through dusty record stores attempting to track down as many Bob Marley LPs as possible, I would never have imagined I would be watching such a well produced biography on the big screen some 17 years later, 31 years after his untimely death.  Such a prospect back then would have probably caused me to literally explode with such youthful enthusiasm that I would have left nothing but a red, gold and green mess all around.  During that time I had no one to share my interest and enthusiasm with but a few long suffering friends and family members. Consequently I thought I was born too late as I was rather out of touch with my peers regarding my musical taste, if you didn't count Jungle, a version of Drum 'N' Base that was popular in certain circles at the time.  In fact Jungle music with it's Dancehall and West Indian influences had a splice of Bob's musical and cultural influence within its DNA.  That and the fact that the Jungle and Drum 'N' Bass culture celebrated the smoking of marijuana, something Bob has been overly identified with detracting somewhat  from his message of revolution, mental emancipation, love, unity and liberty.  So those were the links, spurious as they might be but still links enough to arouse my curiosity when Keep on Moving was released in the UK during the summer of 96.

When I first heard Keep on Moving there was an instant connection to the feel of the music.  It was genuinely positive, not in a contrived or happy clappy kind of way, but as I would discover later it communicated positivity overcoming lived adversity which characterised Bob's life, forged his character and enlivened his spirit.  The lyrics were imbued with meaning which I found refreshing in a time of predictable music that reflected teenage angst, puppy love or the simple raw energy of Jungle and Drum 'N' Bass.  So I bought the single and then soon after my kind mother treated me to Legend.  I listened to it back-to-back in order to suck up the strangely familiar vibe as if I was a wilting plant in an arid land that had been experiencing a drought of fresh water.  Other albums followed, a general interest in Roots Reggae developed alongside, biographies were read and the odd documentary was recorded onto VHS where I went on to test Scoth's life time guarantee.  Sorry Scotch, they did start to fade away!