Reggae and Ireland: Perfect together, mon!
With the kids sprung from school and on spring break, I took the family to a little island that broke the shackles of slavery under British rule and made a huge cultural impact on its own when it gained independence from the crown.
If you guessed Ireland, you guessed wrong.
Any music fan of a certain age probably feels the same pull to reggae music that I do. If you began your love affair with pop music in the late seventies and early eighties (or if you were born after the fact and are currently enjoying the resurgence of this music that I can’t yet bring myself to call “oldies”), your pop idols knew their way around island rhythms.
You could hear Marley’s influence on tracks like Blondie’s “The Tide Is High,” Elvis Costello’s “Watching the Detectives,” the British ska movement, UB40’s “Red, Red Wine,” Boy George, and pretty much everything Sting and the Police recorded at the time.
Just as the Rolling Stones introduced a new generation to the blues, those pop culture references inspired a deep affection for Marley’s music.
Our tour bus in Jamaica hugged the mountain. The wheels of our vehicle perched on a strip of crumbling asphalt that made an Irish bog road look like a superhighway.
The poverty all around us was sobering. Sensing this, our guide led a sing-a-long of reggae tunes as we made out way through the villages leading to Nine Mile, Marley’s birthplace.
The gates to the Marley compound opened as townspeople slithered behind the bus, despite the protests of the guards.
"Excuse me while I light my spliff/Oh God I gotta take a lift/From reality I just can't drift/That's why I am staying with this riff."
The lyrics from Marley’s “Easy Skanking” came to mind as the door opened and we were greeted with the dense smell of cannabis.
The locals were all too eager to sell us joints that were the width of your big toe, which took some considerable explaining on my part after we ushered our daughters up the stairs.
The herb is legal on this mountain, and let’s just say the people here breathe in deep. The weed isn’t just part of a stoner’s paradise; it represents the lifeblood of the Rastafari movement (also known as Rastafarianism or simply Rasta).
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