I’ve got a weird obsession when it comes to collecting music trivia that can be matched only my my good buddies Guitar Jon and Mr. D, who could tell you what colour underwear Keith Richards wore when he played Woodstock ‘69.
But one of my favourite pieces of music trivia is about the Bob Marley song ‘No woman, no cry’ and was told to be by my good buddy Stikey on yet another nameless drunken night spent in a nameless drunken bar.
I love this piece of trivia for two reasons, one because basically EVERYONE knows ‘No woman, no cry’ and two because basically everyone who’s heard it has never given a moment’s thought as to what it means.
I mean, it’s not rocket science, right? He’s singing about how if you don’t have a woman, you won’t cry, ie. cut the bitch loose, problem solved.
Sounds a little cynical for a man who dedicated his life to spreading the message of peace, love, understanding and respect to our fellow man, no?
Damn fucking right it does!
As it turns out, the original version of the song was sung slightly differently than the live version which made it famous. In the original, Marley was singing, ‘No woman, nuh cry’ which becomes hugely significant because the word ‘nuh’ is Jamaican for don’t.
He’s not saying ‘No ho = no heartbreak’ he’s singing a song to his wife Rita, telling her not to cry for him when he leaves.
Originally I’d heard that he recorded the song during the self-imposed two year exile he took from Jamaica after the politically-motivated assassination attempt on his life, but the dates don’t add up right.
All I can surmise is that the song was recorded during a time in his life when he was travelling abroad to record overseas.
He was on a mission that man and even though I’m not a huge reggae fan, I respect Bob Marley because he was a true prophet and a man who changed this world for the better and who’s music will exist for as long as we do.
He was a great man. He died at 36, and his last words to his son Ziggy were, ‘Money can’t buy life.”
Money can’t buy life.