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The Book of Exodus: The Making and Meaning of Bob Marley and the Wailers' Album of the Century [Format Kindle]

Vivien Goldman

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Chapter 1


“I was a stranger in a strange land,” said Bob Marley to me softly. He quoted the biblical verse of Exodus 2:22 almost to himself, intimately, as if the verse had been a familiar friend during his London exile following the attempted assassination on his life that had happened three years before, just yards away.

The brand-new blond wood studio we were sitting in for this interview for a 1979 cover story for the oldest British rock weekly, Melody Maker, indicated that Marley was at a height of his career, artistically and professionally. Personally, too—we could hear children shouting excitedly as they played outside his house at 56 Hope Road, Kingston. He was about to record Survival, the first album he would ever make in his own studio, and it had taken him more than three decades to get there. He had truly survived a dangerous passage, and now, looking back, it was Exodus’s well-worn words that made sense of his experiences.

A chapter a day is the Rasta way, and Bob never went anywhere without his old King James Bible. Personalized with photos of Haile Selassie, it would lie open beside him, a ribbon marking the place, as he played his guitar by candlelight in whichever city he found himself. He had a way of isolating himself with the book, withdrawing from the other laughing musicians on the tour bus to ponder a particular passage, then challenging his bred’ren to debate it as vigorously as if they were playing soccer. Hurled into this unexpected journey, Exodus spoke to him now more than ever. Experiencing his own exile, accompanied by his old cohorts the Barrett brothers and Seeco, the grizzled Dread elder of the tribe, the ancestral narrative held a new meaning for Bob.

At the time it was recorded, Chris Blackwell recalls, it wasn’t even a given that “Exodus” would actually be the album’s title track. Only a very precise prophet could have determined that, a quarter century on, Bob and the Wailers’ anthems would be hailed by Time magazine as the Album of the Century; but Bob knew its significance. In the coming years, the themes that summoned Bob—such as repatriation to a place where you really belong—would become increasingly relevant to us all as the global population grew more dislocated and deracinated, and as refugees in ever increasing numbers would surge around the world, often looking to the Americas and Europe in their restless search for a home. Fleeing for a better life, or simply a life, they all rise to the challenge Bob chants in “Exodus”: “Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?”

Exodus was a natural theme for Marley. Its issues of power, betrayal, hope, disillusionments, and the search for serenity were all uppermost in his mind as he created the Exodus album with the Wailers. The Book of Exodus deals with leaving familiar oppression behind, braving the unknown, and letting faith guide you to a brighter future. These ideas have increasing relevance as we are hit by a contemporary litany of troubles that can be read like the plagues at a Seder, the communal Passover meal at which, every spring for the last two thousand years, the escape from Egypt has been reenacted, sometimes at great peril, wherever there are Jews. As each plague is named, you delicately dip a finger in your glass of wine and let a drop drip down for each disaster inflicted on the Egyptians. It’s understood that the red wine symbolizes a drop of blood. Today’s plagues, to which the ideas of Exodus very much apply, might read thus: wars; starvation; pestilences such as AIDS, malaria, and TB; genocide; ethnic cleansing; ecological collapse; greed; corruption; and disasters both natural and unnatural.

My intention in writing this book is to show the significance of Exodus both in Marley and the Wailers’ musical canon and in the man’s life. The light of the eternal themes of the Bible’s Book of Exodus shines in the Wailers’ work of that name, just as artists have reflected it throughout history. This work aims to show how the biblical narrative of the Hebrews’ flight from Pharaoh, orchestrated by Moses in conjunction with God, interlinks with Marley’s liberating message and the Rastas’ dream of the African diaspora’s return to the Motherland, inspired by their deity Haile Selassie.

Like the souls the Kabbalists describe as sparks of light, many artistic and cultural endeavors revolve around Exodus. By telling some of their stories, I hope to ignite those sparks into a steady flame that illuminates the universal meaning of both Exodus and the life and work of Bob Marley.

The narrative of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt that comforted and strengthened Marley in his time of affliction is so graphic that it lends itself easily to a visual treatment. See the frames flash past: The organized slaughter of Hebrew male babies in the mean slave quarters, at Pharaoh’s command. The Israelite baby bobbing in the basket on the river, hidden by reeds, watched from a distance by his concerned sister, Miriam. She leaves only when she’s seen him discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter. Once adopted, Moses the Hebrew foundling is thrust into a classic role-reversal situation—the slave turned ruler. Then comes the political awakening, when Moses sees an Israelite slave abused by an Egyptian, and slays the oppressor. Struggling to hide the heavy corpse out of town in the sand, and having to deal with the knowledge that he too can kill. Moses’ rural retreat as a shepherd in Midion, and his first marriage, to Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, who would become his mentor. The trippy encounter with a blazing bush that speaks for Hashem—it’s all like something at a Burning Man festival. Afterward, anyone can see his intimate exposure to glory, burned right on his face; Moses never looks the same after being so close to the celestial fire. To hamper social ease further, Moses stammers and is hard to understand. He relies on his brother, Aaron, as his lieutenant.

Still, Moses has unbeatable access to God, and carries the whole road map to freedom in his head. An effective leader, he wheels, deals, and hustles his tribe out of four hundred years of familiar captivity, in the same quest for the Promised Land that Bob Marley sings about in Exodus, except that Bob calls his destination Africa, the land of his father, Jah Rastafari. Moses’ tools include the plagues, which intensify from creepiness to cataclysm and whose grotesqueries, including insect swarms and infanticide, are still the stuff of horror flicks. There are the great Exodus set pieces that Cecil B. DeMille’s Cinemascope movie The Ten Commandments visualized so vividly in 1956: the Red Sea rearing into froth-topped liquid cliffs, and the tables turning when the freed captives see their old slave drivers drown.

With Moses leading the great trek, there is much dissension in the ranks, as the Hebrews dissed their deity, Hashem, with raves around the golden calf, exactly the sort of pagan idolatry that the patriarch, Abraham’s One God, had warned them about. With classic timing, the tribe unleashed their debauch while Moses was descending the mountain carrying the tablets with the Ten Commandments, the template for most of the world’s belief systems. Making matters worse, Aaron had apparently colluded in their defection from the new idea of the One God. It was when Moses, mad as only he could be, confronted the wrongdoers and smashed the sacred stone tablets before them that the transgressors finally felt the sting of their betrayal. Perhaps a defining moment in the history of guilt, it was only then that the ragtag Hebrews became the Jewish people.

Then, Moses’ final frustration, the last time God shows Moses his place. At his final face-to-face meeting with his Creator, Moses learns that he will not be allowed entry into Canaan, the Promised Land. He will have to find satisfaction in a glimpse from a mountaintop and the bittersweet realization that though he has hauled his tribe of fractious Hebrews out of slavery, Moses still won’t get to taste that milk and honey he’s been craving through forty years of false starts and wandering in the wilderness.

And the movement has never stopped. For refugees from Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, all the world’s dispossessed populations shifting and scuffling restlessly round alien territories in search of shelter, the Bible’s Exodus suggests a possibility of finally finding a safe dwelling. In the trajectory of Moses’ tale—the man who makes it all happen, but ultimately only gets to glimpse the home he’d dreamed of—we learn that even being part of the survival process can be a privilege, its own reward. For those in rage, turmoil, or despair, Exodus and its echoes in the Psalms offer a sense of a solution, or at least the encouragement of inspiration.

Moses’ drastic reinvention as a reluctant, ambivalent leader demonstrates and represents all human potential for resurrection, change, and spiritual growth. The lessons Moses learned and delivered as the Ten Commandments serve as a fundamental moral yardstick for the dominant religious expressions that are collectively called Mosaic—Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

The transformation implicit in the Exodus saga is reflected in our frontiers and cities. Both pleasure and conflict come from these new meshings and confrontations. Cultures collide and repel, or commingle and integrate, and new tribes take shape. Fresh strata of society shift, sift, and settle down as restlessly as grinding tectonic plates. J...

Revue de presse

“Vivien Goldman is a soldier who understood where we were coming from with our music and spread the message with her writing. She is on the Zion Train.” —Aston “Family Man” Barrett, cofounder and bass player of the Wailers

“Finely reported, vividly written, and politically astute, Vivien Goldman travels with Bob Marley on the intimate journey that led him to become the voice of the Exodus. A fundamental human conflict, Exodus expresses the eternal quest for land, identity, and in Marley’s case, a quest for harmony.” —Mariane Pearl, author of A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Danny Pearl

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1317 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 325 pages
  • Editeur : Crown Archetype (18 décembre 2007)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B000XUAE7G
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.5 étoiles sur 5  13 commentaires
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Music Writing At Its Best 5 juin 2006
Par Pete Shelton - Publié sur
It is convincingly argued that the pop album has become an effectively arcane form. But even in a digital age, certain albums continue to both define and transcend their creators. Sgt. Pepper, What's Going On, Astral Weeks, Blood On the Tracks... the list invites nerdish debate. But one title can never be excluded; Bob Marley and The Wailers' Exodus was the product of a specific time and place and remains the most extraordinary single work of the Third World's most extraordinary musical voice.

Vivien Goldman was one of the key writers during the Golden Age of British music journalism when the punk explosion inspired the intense gut-intellectual talents of the first post-sixties generation. Unlike many of her colleagues her love and understanding of black music has continually defined her work and The Book Of Exodus is perhaps the best thing she has done.

This is at once memoir, critical analysis and history. Vivien Goldman takes the reader into the studio as Exodus was created. A palpable sense of the immediacy of that process, the atmosphere (well fumigated with the herbsman's wares) and personalities involved come vividly to life through the eyes of the young fan-reporter. Most movingly, Goldman's own ability to connect her life as the North London-raised daughter of German-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust with the Trench Town experience that formed Bob Marley is at the heart of the book. This is no falsely crafted analogy. It is above all a spiritual link, the "Flash Of The Spirit" which has made the core African musical experience one of the world's most unifying cultural forces.

For anyone who wants to understand something of Marley's greatness and gentle charisma, Vivien Goldman shares her privileged experience of hanging with the man and his colleagues in both Jamaica and London. This was an artist whose words and music have inspired more people worldwide than maybe any other pop musician and yet the man who emerges here is a very real person living in a very real time. Goldman gives us a vivid sense of both.

Everyone with more than a passing interest in Marley and The Wailers should read this book. It will send you back to the music, reggae's shining hour, with renewed love and understanding.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 the greatest of all 3 mai 2006
Par Adriana Kaegi - Publié sur
this book is history but reads like a novel

it is a must read! it is a book that takes you deep into

the live of bob marley and far away to the exodus of people in general. very very cool.

3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Marley Comes Alive... 17 mai 2006
Par Davita G. Robinson - Publié sur
Vivien Goldman's detailed portrait of the man comes alive in this initimate book. Goldman takes you on a journey, not just of a making of a masterpiece (The Exodus album) but of the man himself. A Marley confidant, she often interviewed the Wailers and Marley and gives the reader an insider's view of the politics, spritiuality, and artisty of the legend. If you think you know much about Marley, you don't. Read and learn from "The Book of Exodus".
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Exodus: The Making & Meaning of Bob Marley & the Wailers' Album of the Century 4 juin 2006
Par R. DeAngelis - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I just finished reading this book and I thought the coverage of Marley's musical life and progression was excellent. Vivien Goldman's passion/love for Bob Marley & the Wailers and their music shone like a star. Heartfelt and moving, this was one of the best books I've read about this prophetic man and his life. So well done, thanks for writing it. To songs of freedom...
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Accurate Coverage of Mid 70s Kingston 21 août 2006
Par Charles Cosner - Publié sur
Having spent much time in Kingston in the mid 1970s, this book accurately reflects the politics and gestalt of the time . Ms. Goldman's attention to geographical detail is one of the strong points of the book. The book is right on in terms of its intellectual context, as well as its more anecdotal style.Relly, this is one of the better books on Marley, Reggae, and Jamaica.
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