World Literature in English
Bob Marley and Jamaica
last updated May 4, 1999
biography and background What is Reggae? His Songs & Lyrics
For Course Discussion: 
Relevant Links: 
Culture and Religion: the Caribbean Area Further Studies
  •  General issues: 

  • Biography
  • Political & Social Situations of Jamaica:

  • "What is Reggae?"
  • from All Music Guide (Go there for major artists)
  • from The Origin of Reggae in Bob Marley site

  •      "As far as Jamaican record-buyers are concerned, the word reggae was coined on a 1968
         Pyramid dance single, "Do the Reggay (sic)," by Toots and the Maytals. Some believe the
         term is derived from Regga, the name of a Bantu-speaking tribe on Lake Tanganyika. Others
         say it is a corruption of "streggae," Kingston street slang for prostitute.

         Bob Marley claimed the word was Spanish in origin, meaning "the king's music." Veteran
         Jamaican studio musicians offer the simplest, and probably the most plausible, explanation.
         "It's a description of the beat itself," says Hux Brown, lead guitarist on Paul Simon's 1972
         reggae-flavored hit, "Mother and Child Reunion," and the man widely credited with inventing
         the one-string quiver/trill that kicked off Simon's single as well as many of the top island hits of
         the preceeding years.

              "It's just a fun, joke kinda word that means the ragged rhythm and the body feelin'. If
              it's got a greater meanin', it doesn't matter," Brown said.

    Songs and Lyrics:

    More lyrics from International Lyrics Server

    For Further Studies:
    On the cover of Confrontation, Bob Marley was depicted as an Ethiopian horseman (complete with the traditional thong stirrup, a reference by art director Neville Garrick to the deadly cancer that began in Marley's toe) who's been transformed into St. George slaying the dragon.