Exodus – Bob Marley’s Masterpiece

*I am a music lover, have been all my life, and I have written here about various compositions and productions that I enjoyed over the years. Exodus by Bob Marley is one of the most hypnotic pieces of music I have ever listened to. If it plays somewhere, I will hear it in my head for days later. I guess it has to be the beat because there seem to be only about eight words to the whole song.*

Exodus is the title song of a giant selling album of Marley from 1977. Rolling Stone reports, “The Marley Family, Island Records and UMe have announced a massive set of Exodus reissues to mark the 40th anniversary of Bob Marley & the Wailers’ landmark Exodus album, which was released on June 3, 1977.” So it is special to more than just me.

Here is part of what the Rolling Stone reviewer said of the tune back then.  “Exodus doesn’t reach these heights, nor does it seem to aim for them, save on the seven-minute title performance, which sounds like War on a slow day and wears out long before it is half over. If I didn’t have more faith in Marley I’d think he was trying to go disco — the tune is that mechanical.” 

The following is from the Oberlin College Library – Radical thinkers and movements in the Caribbean by David V. Moskowitz

While the lyrics are very poignant, the structure of the song itself also enforces the song’s motivational purpose.  Both the bass and guitar provide a driving groove that feels like it’s constantly moving forward. This stands in stark contrast to the float-y feel that many attribute to a stereotypical reggae song.  Additionally, the song’s central repeating verse “Exodus: movement of Jah people” is sung by a chorus in addition to Marley which makes it easy to sing along. Singing along with a piece of music calls attention to the lyrics in a much deeper way than does passively listening. Repeating the lyrics to oneself forces one to analyze and interpret their meaning. Furthermore, many songs used politically have lyrics that are poignant but also easy to commit to memory and sing in a group. “Exodus” has a very simple song structure that lends itself to this purpose. It is unknown whether or not Bob Marley intended this song to become a political anthem, but the structure of the song implies Marley made it to be easily accessible.”

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I do.

Tony