In 1973, Neville Willoughby interviewed Robert Nesta Marley, better known as Bob Marley, with his portable Sony TC-106A reel-to-reel tape deck. In Willoughby's words, "Somehow, I never got the clarity from the tape recorder that I got when I interviewed Bob Marley." Bob Marley spoke "Jamaican English," so please bear with the vernacular.
Neville But listen, you know a lot of people have a feeling that, a lot of guys who claim to be Rastas, are really, as one song says, rascals.
Bob Many shall be called, but only a few chosen. And there shall be sheep and wolf in sheep clothing! But I&I couldn't watch that, this day. Because I&I have to live Rasta and know Rasta. I noh come fi judge a man. Jah seh leave all judgemant onto him. Soh all people who see a man out deh and seh "how him a gwaan like seh him a rasta". Who is dem fi seh how him a gwaan so. When God seh leave all judgemant onto him.
Neville But what you think about all this crime and violence going on though, as a Rasta?
Bob Ha Ha. Is laws cause crime and violence. Well I noh really... Yuh know what ah mean. Earth a come, earth a forward to how creation was an how earth fi rest. Is a mind ting. Now all the laws that we abide by and blaah-blaah-boom-boom-boom, what cause wi fi suffer. As any man can know that. Them law deh noh must be a must.
Neville Which laws? You speaking of any laws in particular?
Bob Every law! The only law which is law is the law of life. The law how fi live. Now dig dis. A man build him city and him seh him want these people fi run it, and him want these people to live yah soh. Now me don't waan get involved talking like me is a politician. Mi jus' waan talk 'bout righteousness. Like seh well then, Jah a earth rightful ruler and him noh run no wire fence.
Neville Am I right in assuming that Rastas don't believe in violence, at all?
Bob Rasta don't believe in violence man! Rasta don't believe, Rasta know. Yuh see, is when yuh believe, is that mash yuh up. Yuh must know what yuh know. Earth is earth, within 2000 years, now is 1973. Like I seh again. I naah do dis ting fi no money business. Dis ting, is Jah come inna I heart and mek it move, that I fi goh inna England goh seh these things again. Or say these things in America, or Australia. I man haffi goh, because I personnally is a servant of H.I.M. Not doing noh hard work, just doing wah Jah seh I fi do. And thru him gi I the power fi play music and him gi I the Inspiration fi seh these things, and mek the people, who him work through see these things. Because I know seh Jah inna every life. Now some people ah devil and some people ah angel. Dig! Jah seh leave all judgemant onto him. Dig! Soh yuh know, is certain, is plenty tings, ah man haffi keep to himself and try source it out fi himself. Because yuh can seh tings. At the time yuh say it, it noh seh right, and maybe not. Yuh know wah ah mean. Because these things are things Jah teach yuh everyday, and sometime yuh haffi learn. Yuh haffi know wah him seh. Yuh haffi source it out.
Neville Now you know, you have your religious faith, right. You have your convictions. Do you get annoyed by people who don't understand what you are talking about? Do you get annoyed.
Bob I am sorry for the people who don't understand what we talk about. Because they bare great tribulations in times when they don't have to. Yuh see, I personally know my heart can be hard as a stone, and yet soft as water. Then again... still sorry fi the people who don't know H.I.M. Because is like my mother used to tell mi. People head ah goh chop off and dem waan dead and caan dead. Inna the judgement. And these days yah ah the judgement days. Yuh know, only the fittest of the fittest shall survive. Like wah Marcus Garvey seh. Ah jus' so it goh.
Neville Tell me now. As a Rasta, what is your feeling about being Jamaican?
Bob Being Jamaican?
Bob Being Jamaican? Hear how it goh now Neville. Being Jamaican? I don't see I self as being Jamaican. I see I self as a Rasta being Rasta! Soh, Jamaica is Jamaica. Africa is Afirca. I man a Rasta!
Neville Aah ha. You don't have any boundaries.
Bob My boundaries. Now, well I must pick a place pon earth where I know I must live. And I know I waan live near my father and my father live in Ethiopia. So I must live where my father is.
Neville Literally? In other words, literally you hope to live in Ethiopia some day.
Bob I don't hope. Wi going. Near, near! Dis is 1973, going near to 74 now. Jah seh, before one of my word pass away, heaven and earth crash. Dig! And him seh, him gone fi prepare a place, where he is I&I shall be there also!
Neville Bob, listen, everyday nowadays you read about famine in Ethiopia. What you say to that now?
Bob Great! I seh great. If yuh don't know God yuh goin' suffer and dead! No God Noh Partial, regardless weh yuh deh pon earth. If yuh deh ah Ethiopia inna him palace and yuh don't know him is the almighty, yuh suffer. God noh partial I. Now, I could ah starve and suffer too, but I know Jah.
Neville Now it's Bob Marley and the Wailers. You write such a lot of material for the group. You have such a lot to do with it. Are you committed to the group?
Bob Well yes! The group is the Wailers. Well fi some reason them seh Bob Marley and the Wailers. I never tell anyone fi seh dat, from no time at all. But maybe fi some reason why dem do it. Well I man is a Wailers. An' ah just soh it rest. Right now I&I ah goh play some music and just gwaan play some music until then. Until wah fi happen will just happen. Because I&I don't plan life. Because when man plan, Jah wipeout.
Neville Alright, but what about song writing. You write such a lot of music. Different people write music in different ways. Some sit down and write the words and then put the music to it. Some write the music, then drop in the words after. Do you have a process, and exactly what is it, if you have one?
Bob Well it grow together. Is like, first time mi try to write a song is the first time mi try to play the guitar. And soh mi can write a song without the guitar. But it really grow together. Mi really like stay with mi guitar. But it just happen, is Jah inspiration come thru man. Because, I personally, it look like, could ah write a whole heap a tune, it look like. But I pick special tune fi write. 'Cause a man can think of plenty things. Yuh know wah ah mean.
Neville Yes. I understand.
Neville Hey, listen I know you had a close association with Johnny Nash, who has done quite a lot of your tunes. And me hear people talking and saying, "bwoy ah wonder if Johnny Nash ever treat our Jamaican man right?". What exactly is the situation? We are quite free on this program.
Bob Well... Dem gi mi some money the other day. And want mi fi sign another agreement with them. Mi really ah check it out like (ha ha). 'Cause yuh know...chuh! Is like mi noh waan really seh nothing bad 'bout dem, and still mi noh have nothing much good fi seh.
Neville What do you think about Americans taking Reggae and doing it and making big money out of it? Like Johnny Nash has done and Paul Simon and a couple of other people. What do you think about that.
Bob Well dem do something wah thru these people out yah try kill wi off, wi couldn't do right. Because dem people out yah too wicked. Now Neville dem ting yah mek mi vex.
BobLook how much good artist inna Jamaica. Look wah it tek fi a guy, jus' seh because dem is guys, seh alright mi ah goh get some good recording done and do a ting with it. Jus' ah hustle off ah people. Waah yuh come in deh come do 15 tune in 3 hours. And soh ah guy spend $15,000 (JA) mek a album and when the album come it sell a million. Soh him don't loose, because him really stay deh and noh guess nothing. Him stay deh and do wah him ah do.
Neville So you mean that the people here wouldn't want to spend the money on us.
Bob Dem never waan do that.
Neville I see.
Bob Dem wait until Johnny Nash and dem guys deh gwaan with a ting. An' certain guys dem si whole heap a guys ah come in now. Dem hardly want wi even do it to. Yuh ah fi have yuh own studio and all that. Wah wi ah try get right now our own studio. Because if wi want it, Jah will mek wi have it.
Neville You want a studio?
Bob Yeah!!! Because wi want to mek music. Yuh have to much man out deh wah wi ah fi go thru too much other things, just thru classes.
Neville You've spoken a couple time about classes. Middle class and that type of thing.
Bob Yeah. I've come to realize se dem really divide wi in classes. Yes, and is true. Dem try fi divide wi in classes weh mi don't agree with. Because is wickedness. Yuh caan divide people. How can yuh divide the people? Some ah dem noh have four foot.
Neville Yeah. True, true.
Neville Listen Bob, we've run out of time, but I'd like to ask you if you have any sought of hope in the country Jamaica right now. You are a guy getting on alright in your field. You know. In singing.
Bob Hope in the country?
Bob Well yes. Jamaica is a little nice great place. Mi really love Jamaica, because mi walk plenty stone land inna Jamaica and plenty hills. But ah think we really need a direction. Not a big ol' signing up this and signing up that, but a direction in your own country. Wah happen to the earth. An mean wi have to till the soil. An' it noh call fi slavery fi do that. It just call fi understanding.
Neville Well atleast you have made a start, because you say you are a Farmer.
Bob I man a Farmer Iyah from creation.
Neville Ok. Bob Marley, it's been a great pleasure talking to you.