The recent Baltimore marches and protests over the police killing of Freddie Gray is proof that reggae music still packs revolutionary power and Bob Marley words still live on.
To see a young teenager get on CNN and tell a reporter that he joined the protests because he was inspired by The Wailers “Burnin’ and Lootin’” shows that the power of reggae music is still as strong as ever. In fact, if you were hearing the song for the first time today, you might have thought that it was inspired by the Freddie Gray incident.
Below are some of the lyrics from the song:
This morning I woke up in a curfew
Oh God, I was a prisoner too
Could not recognize the faces standing over me
They were all dressed in uniforms of brutality
How many rivers do we have to cross
Before we can talk to the boss
That’s why we gonna be burning and looting tonight
Burning and looting tonight
Six Baltimore police officers have now been charged with Freddie Gray’s death and there is no denying that the marches, burning, protesting and looting played a role in the officers being charged.
Before The Wailers were made into Bob Marley and the Wailers, an album named Burnin’ was released in 1973, the last before the most famous split of many in reggae. Bob Marley went on to become the best known of the trio that included Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. Bob Marley’s diverse material has also been given very narrow focus, so that One Love, is his signature song; a “lets hug, accept life as it is, pretend injustice is a thing of the past and all get along” misinterpretation. Not so with the title track for Burnin’, which is Burnin’ and Lootin’, a song which fits the situation in Baltimore wonderfully.
There are many who have tried to dilute and diminish the works of Bob Marley and the Wailers but as Peter Tosh said, “you can’t fool the youths”. The youths of Baltimore were not fooled. Thanks to their burning and looting, the wheel of justice is finally turning.