Analysis of Bob Marley's "War" Analytical Essay

Analysis of Bob Marley's "War"
This article analyzes Bob Marley's song "War" and looks at the message in the theme of his song.
# 113712 | 1,207 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2009 | US

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In this article, the writer notes that the reggae music artist Bob Marley used a speech by Ethiopian leader Halie Selassie for the song "War." The writer points out that Selassie was an African leader and also a major figure in the religion of Rastafarianism, of which Marley was a member. Marley was also known for his lyrical content in terms of his ability to directly address political issues of the time. The writer discusses that by looking at the song lyrics to the Bob Marley song "War," the listeners of the music and the readers of the lyrics can see how the artist is first of all a Rastafarian by religion, and then an activist by political involvement: the song shows both sides of Marley, the Rasta side and the political side. The writer maintains that despite an observation of his being above politics, Marley was also linked by association with politics by the explicit political themes he often chose as his message. The writer concludes that the result, whether through misinterpretation or intention, was not universally positive or peace-love, either.

From the Paper:

"Bob Marley was seen by many as a representative voice of the Jamaican lower class and Rastafarian religion and culture, and there are explicit political connections to be made between his music and society, especially his work with the Wailers, during which time the song "War" was co-opted from Selassie's speech. At many times during Marley's life, the connections he made with politics were explicit, as when he used his stage to unite political leaders in a spirit of friendliness and hand-shaking, or when he sang about the dire situation in Africa in songs like "War," which as mentioned was directly taken from a political speech by the Rastafarian deity and Ethiopian dictator Haile Selassie. But at the same time, there is a tension between politics and religion/mysticism in Marley's life and lyrics that makes calling him a political leader or saying that he chose political reggae music difficult. To a true Rastafarian, which image Marley adhered to even at the heights of his international pop-stardom, involvement politics was to be avoided at all costs as a function of Babylon. But at the other end of the spectrum, Marley was definitely involved in political activities, and "War" signifies lyrically what is basically a political message about African unity and peace, only to be achieved through freedom from bondage."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Marley, Bob. "War" Mp3 audio file.
  • Selassie, H. "Address to United Nations."
  • Steffens, Roger. "Bob Marley."
  • Wolk, Howard. "Bob Marley, Reggae, and Rastafarianism: Cultural Leadership in Post-Independence Jamaica."
  • "Song lyrics War"

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Analysis of Bob Marley's "War" (2009, April 28) Retrieved March 02, 2024, from

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"Analysis of Bob Marley's "War"" 28 April 2009. Web. 02 March. 2024. <>