4. redemption song

“It’s true. There are still people out there who haven’t heard Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, not even a cover version. And that’s a problem. Because we all need redemption, because we’ve all got slavery in us one way or another. Unless you’re one of those grey alien types who’ve been lording it over ALL humanity since the days of Atlantis. In which case, F*** You. To everybody else though, if you haven’t heard Redemption Song, why not? Because it’s Bob Marley’s last song, and it’s his best (assuming this list is accurate).

(Photo: Mike Prior Redferns/Getty Images)

If you have heard Redemption Song, then I suspect it requires no justification. Because even if you’re sick of all the white rastas out there, all their tofu stir fries and b.o. (because if you don’t eat meat, man, you don’t stink). Even if (and a million other ifs, because let’s face it, the Bob Marley legacy is hardly a secret anymore, anywhere – bigger than the Beatles once you get outside the Euro-western empires). Even F***ing If – well, you know that Redemption Song transcends all that. Because we all need redemption. We’ve all got slavery in us one way or another. Am I allowed to say that? I just did. Twice.” (Philip Random)

79. burnin’ and lootin’

“Burnin’ and Lootin’ goes back to 1973, almost the beginning of the Bob Marley and the Wailers story (certainly in terms of the music getting heard anywhere outside of Jamaica) but it took almost twenty years for it properly nail me. April-29-1992, the LA riots, watching it all go down on TV, then throwing in with a radio show that night, mixing in live TV audio, surfing the chaos, mixing it up with various relevant tunes, which meant lots of gangsta rap, of course, almost as angry as the day itself. But the song that ended up cutting the deepest that night, spoke most profoundly to the underlying history, the centuries of evil bullshit and terror that had fed the monster we were watching – that was Burnin’ and Lootin’. Because the only thing new about what had happened to Rodney King was the man’s name.” (Philip Random)

(image source)

212. the night they drove old Dixie down

Joan Baez had a big AM radio hit with this back in around 1972. Meanwhile, the cool FM DJs were playing the Band’s original version, which my teenybop ears didn’t really get. Too gritty, too raw. But jump ahead a few years to The Last Waltz (the movie of the Band’s big deal farewell concert) and yeah, I got it! The vast tragedy of the American South, what it is to lose a war and thus your culture, see it all burned before your eyes by the forces of Northern Aggression. Yeah, they owned slaves or certainly fought for those who did, but … I can’t think of a but for this. Slavery’s about as f***ed up as humanity gets. But there you go – where there’s humanity, there’s also soul, and thus complexity. Which is why we need songs like The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” (Philip Random)

Band-1977-LastWaltz

610. Angola Anthem

“1970’s Remedies found Dr. John in full-on Night Tripper mode, particularly on side long Angola Anthem, which someone once told me was pure evil. To which I now say, nah, but it is about an evil place, Angola Prison, Louisiana (the Alcatraz of the South), the kind of place that hardened criminals would break down at the mere mention of, because doing time at Angola was a journey to the nightmarish past, the days of slavery. I don’t think Dr. John (aka “Mac” Rebennack) ever did time there himself, but a little research reveals he did do some federal time in Texas, so the feeling is he must have heard some stories. So yeah, welcome to those nightmares.” (Philip Random)

DRJohn-1970