1980 | Folk
Spotify | Amazon
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. — None but ourselves can free our minds!”
- In 2004, Rolling Stone placed the song at #66 among "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".
- Some key lyrics are derived from a speech by Marcus Garvey entitled "The Work That Has Been Done.”
- In 2009, Jamaican poet and broadcaster Mutabaruka chose "Redemption Song" as the most influential recording in Jamaican music history.
THE HOT TAKES
The lyrics Nick selected to highlight for this song are just fantastic: "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds!" But this is one of the most incredible tricks out there! We hear those lyrics and take them to heart. It swells our sense of pride as libertarians. But here's the kicker, folks: SJWs hear those lyrics and get the same kick from them! Christian fundamentalists hear those lyrics and get the same kick. In fact, MOST groups can get the same effect. It's just simple fortune telling. Talk in vague terms based on a few premises, and let the mind of the fortune tell-ee do the rest! I've written before about how my love for Star Wars is an apparent match for my libertarianism, but many groups within the liberty movement, OR on the left, OR on the right, can all use the same story to make themselves out to be the good guys and their opponents out to be the bad guys. We're all the Rebellion, beacuse we're all the good guys in our own minds. Very few people actually conceive of themselves as a physical manifestation of abstract evil. Even if you think the Sith are super cool with their red lightsabers and wicked force powers, you in your own life aren't anything like that. But it's easy to ascribe such characteristics to those you already disagree with. So, there you go: Bob Marley and Star Wars, together at last. Luke Tatum, raising the bar day after day.
My two fellow writers have done a wonderful job of extrapolation on this song. I don’t know that I can do any better, but I do love this song so. It has such a spirit of longing and hope, and is reminiscent of the negro spirituals that helped African American slaves get through the toughest and most brutal of tribulations. If you look, you’ll see that every culture that has been enslaved or otherwise oppressed has music of this kind, speaking to the soothing and encouraging power of music. I don’t know why, but music helps people to endure many things. This song in particular with it’s line “Caus all I ever have / redemption song,” is such a powerful tribute to the human spirit of freedom and a reminder that there are times when all a person has is a song to get them through and those songs can be so very powerful in the fight for freedom.
I, like most young men, shipped off to college was a big fan of Bob Marley. I’m sure there are bunches of pictures of me playing acoustic in front of a poster of him. I prefer his reggae material because I’m not a big folk guy, but there is something special about that Marcus Garvey line cribbed for this song. I wish that line rang out in the minds of people now but unfortunately collectivism and victimization reign supreme. Freedom starts from within. This feels like an important lesson that modern race pimps blatantly ignore as if it never happened. I can’t speak on the feelings minorities undergo in regards to race relations but as the father of a little black girl I can’t emphasize how important it is to me to teach her that no matter the adversity, she is the only person that overcome it.