Bob Marley & The Wailers "Smile Jamaica" (1976)

Label: Tuff Gong

Its chorus might sound like a tourist-brochure slogan—"Smile, you're in Jamaica"—but as the movie Marleymakes clear, "Smile Jamaica" was written with a more serious purpose than celebrating sunshine and sandy beaches. In 1976 tensions between the socialist People's National Party and the right-wing Jamaican Labour Party were flaring into gunplay as thugs aligned with both sides battled for control of Kingston's streets.

 

When the Manley government called for general elections shortly after Bob's "Smile Jamaica" concert was announced, Marley appeared to be in the PNP's corner—putting him in mortal danger during the hotly contested election.

 

Bob Marley released this song in hopes of bringing the people together, and even planned a free concert of the same name. But when the Manley government called for general elections shortly after Bob's Smile Jamaica concert was announced, Marley appeared to be in the PNP's corner—putting him in mortal danger during the hotly contested election.

Two days before the Smile Jamaica concert, on December 3, 1976, a group of assassins snuck into Marley's compound at 56 Hope Road and shot Bob, his wife Rita, and his manager Don Taylor. Miraculously, nobody was killed—and Marley went on with the show as planned, defiantly displaying his bandaged bullet wounds on stage.

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