When asked about the beginnings of his music career, Robert Nesta Marley a.k.a. Bob Marley told Jamaican radio personality Neville Willoughby that he "started out crying." Though Bob never tired of playing games with interviewers' heads, his answer had at least a grain of truth to it. No matter now many times his smiling face has been appropriated as the image of ganja-fueled frat-party hedonism, the real Bob Marley was determined to risk everything so that he might use his God-given gifts to be a "wailer"—literally crying out from his soul on behalf of downtrodden people all around the world.
He did all this while championing a genre of music that was new to most international ears, while espousing beliefs that seemed far-out to say the least, and while rocking a funny-looking hairstyle and smoking some very funny-looking cigarettes. No wonder the man became a legend, a nearly mythical figure, a loved, modern-day icon of liberation and freedom. But somewhere along the way all those T-shirts and black-light posters may have obscured the fact that Marley was also one of the greatest songwriters and artists who ever lived.
As Complex celebrates the 40th anniversary of the King of Reggae's iconic album Exodus, we decided it was full time to get back to the music. So we selected these 100 songs that bear witness to the genius of Bob Marley. In just 36 short years on planet earth, this poor country boy who was born in the rural Jamaican village of Nine Mile and raised on the mean streets of Trenchtown took his music and and his message to the four corners of the earth. All those who have ears, let them hear.
Now excuse us while we light our spliff.
Listen to Complex's best Bob Marley Songs playlists here: YouTube/Spotify/Rdio