Q Magazine’s summation aptly describes, Bob Marley: Songs of Freedom: ‘A remarkable collection of material. Boot’s photographs are the best to be found anywhere. Salewicz’s text is extraordinarily thorough and benefits from the superb access granted by Rita Marley’s endorsement.’
This is a fantastic book just to flip through for the photographs – it is a beautiful pictorial representation of the private and public life of Bob Marley, his friends and relatives. But when you delve deeper you find that it is filled with so much more.
It is a biography of this unassuming, spiritual, influential, much-loved but short-lived man. It is a comprehensive and interesting overview of Jamaican history and rastafari religion. It is a telling story of the birth and evolution of reggae music, adding in stories of other influential musicians of the time. Finally, it is a testament to the influence and reach of Bob Marley and his songs of freedom.
These elements are woven together in a large-format, coffee-table style book, where the story of Marley’s life is the main thread, and there are pages woven throughout describing the details listed above.
The biographical story runs pretty much chronologically except for the first chapter, “The End,” a three-page summary of Marley’s life and death. Then it begins at “The Beginning,” with Marley’s mother when she was eight. You get to know Bob’s mother, father and grandmother – as well as Rita, later – and it is through these introductions that you are later able to believe and view in great detail ‘first-hand’ accounts of things that happened to Bob throughout his life. If there is one thing missing, it would be the inclusion of Bob’s voice through the narrative. It’s a personal recounting and yet there are times when you’d like to hear some of it in Bob’s words, and you wonder how anyone could have known and recounted some of the anecdotes with such clarity and detail. Nonetheless, Songs of Freedom is a lush, comprehensive book, and if we want Marley’s words we need only go to his lyrics and body of work.