"Let's get together and feel alright" Remembering Bob Marley
The Imphal Roots Rock Reggae Show on 20th June 2015
"My music fights against the system that teaches to live and die" - Bob Marley
It was the 17th of June 2015. Some friends delighted me with a bunch of wrist-belt-ticket-to-ride to Imphal Roots Rock Reggae Show. The most fascinating thing is the conception of the ticket based on the colours of the symbol of Rastafarian movement and most importantly the concept of "one love" – the colour of Green, yellow and red.
I took the tickets, felt the colours and thought to myself, "Do we really need a prophet like Marley in our State". I don't know how my mind was provoked by those colours. I am still thinking.
For years I have prided myself on being what I would consider very knowledgeable about music and musicians. In fact when asked about my personal musical taste I would always refer to it as glam rock, heavy metal, progressive rock, psychedelic, folk songs and with a little taste of reggae. So you can imagine how surprised I was when I heard Bob Marley's "Rastaman Vibration" album for the first time, (the album originally recorded in 1976).
There I was sitting in the middle of a crowd "Down Under bar" of Sector 17 Chandigarh with my beautiful and classy date right by my side. I don't know which was more odd, the total look of astonishment on my face or the look of curiosity on her face as she wondered why I seemed to be frozen in place so deep in thought. I had heard of Bob Marley and thought I was familiar with his music.
So I was not prepared for the incredible rhythm and precision. The synchronicity of their music play reminds me of the musical scene of Manipur, the mess-up law and order situation, the kind of musical integrity and performance brilliance that to this day, to my knowledge has not been duplicated. Hearing such great music just makes you just smile, but on the inside.
Music, especially timeless music, has a way of echoing specific memories of the times they were originally recorded in, or your personal memories involved when you first experienced it. It is amazing how timeless music seems to carry things forward in time. Bob Marley's music does just that.
He felt he was fighting a war against all things which oppressed the people and that the music of his band was the weapon. He knew that he and the Wailers would leave a legacy which would stand for all time. Indeed they have left a weapon of sorts, always available to encourage and inspire the listener upon the release of the first note.
One thing we don't hear a lot in contemporary music is hope. Hope is powerful because it energizes and propels people forward even when the odds are against them. It helps people find innovative ways to work around their constraints. Hope helps people rise above their circumstances. Furthermore, true leaders are those who are able to truly have a long-lasting influence and give us hope.
The reason Bob Marley lives so strongly in the public imagination is because his music had a meaningful positive message . It wasn't just positive in a let's-have-a-good-time kind of way, though there was some of that. Marley's music was transformative, aspiring to make the world a better place.
His story is that of an archetype, which is why it continues to have such a powerful and ever-growing vibrancy as it represents political control, metaphysical and artistic insights, gangland warfare and various periods of mystical wilderness. And his audience continues to widen.
In westerns countries, Marley's apocalyptic truths prove inspirational and life-changing; in the Third World his impact goes much further. Not just among Jamaicans, but also to the world, Bob is seen as a redeemer figure returning to lead. Yet this kinder and gentler concept can be powerful in its own way. Think of the power of Bob Marley's ubiquitous image, music and lyrics so many years after his death.
Come 20th June 2015, a day before World Music Day, Imphal will be witnessing Bob Marley's musical impressiveness through "The Imphal Roots Rock Reggae Show".
Organized by Art Heals Trust, Manipur, a new organization dedicated to the promotion of the Arts in Manipur, the musical event will be held at Iboyaima Shanglen from 5 pm onwards and will feature live music acts by "Anticlockwise" from Imphal, "Roots Reggae Band" from Shillong, "Akhu" singer/songwriter and lead vocalist of Imphal Talkies, "Haraba" vocalist of blues band Fringes, "Bhabanda" singer/songwriter of Pendulum Swing, "Kenedy" vocalist of Dirty Strikes, "Sammi" a well known performer and "Roxy" vocalist of the all female band Maniac.
Every diehard fan of Bob Marley has been looking forward to this tribute event for months and Imphal will be so proud of having it. Marley's belief of Reggae music as the consciousness of the people coming together is going to be realised soon. The sun, the rain, the mud and dust, and the vivid chanting of the fans will deliberately unify with the three Colours of Rasta.
* Nishi wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on June 20, 2015.
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