This song was written in 1979 after Bob Marley had been diagnosed with cancer and while he was feeling a lot of pain, according to his wife Rita. The song was the last released single by Bob Marley and the last song he performed live, on 23rd September 1980, before his death in 1981. It is a version of an old freedom hymn and deals with his religious beliefs as a Rastafarian and tells people that they should free themselves from self-imposed physical and mental slavery. The introductory notes to the song are taken from a variation on the song “Guns of Navarone” which had been a popular release by the group The Skatalites. The released single was made solely with him singing accompanied by only an acoustic guitar. The band version was released as the B-side of the single and also featured as a bonus track on the re-issued album Uprising in 2001. It is No. 66 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and has been covered by artists including U2, Lauryn Hill, Johnny Cash, Stevie Wonder, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and many more with his son Ziggy giving a performance of it with the Irish band The Chieftains. The song has also been sung by Wyclef Jean at a concert held after the 9/11 attacks, by Pink in her I’m Not Dead Tour in Europe, and the singer Joe Strummer has named his biography after it.
Bob Marley and the Wailers recordings
Redemption Song (Bob Marley)
Redemption Song (Band Version)(Bob Marley)
Island: WIP 6653 ( UK 45 PS)
This version was released in 1980 but did not reach the charts.