It’s no easy task to whittle 40-50 Bob Marley hits to just 10. But someone has to do it, and who better than me? So whether tanning at the beach, traveling in a car, or protesting a war, these are the 10 best Bob Marley songs of all time.
10. Sun Is Shinning. Pure reggae. Very raw. One of Marley’s best from his early years.
9. One Drop. I love this song because it’s bouncy, encouraging, and fun to listen to. It’s chill, but it’s also aggressive, like when Marley belts “One Drop!” “One Stop!” and “Hua!” during the verse.
8. Is This Love. Talk about a thumping reggae love song. The bass is driving. The drums are pounding. And it makes me want to dance — quite possibly the best Marley track to start a playlist with.
7. Stir it up. I don’t think there is another Marley song where the individual elements stand out as much as they do in this sulky, layered song. Bass lines have never been this walky. You’ve never heard “whaka, whakas” quite so fresh.
6. So Much Trouble in the World. This song creeps like a creeper. It’s sneaks up on you, and has some of the best synth organs ever recorded. As usual, Marley’s preachy lyrics perfectly combine with background vocals.
5. Africa Unite. I played this song for Sadie when she was just six months old. But that didn’t stop her from swaying to the music in sync with the beat. It’s both chill and dancy, as are most of Marley’s tracks.
4. Three Little Birds. If you’ve had a sucky day or feel that the world is coming down on you, do yourself a favor and listen to this song. It’s one of Marley’s happiest and sure to paint a smile on any jaded or worried face.
3. Shake Down Party. This is one of Marley’s most underrated songs. It’s like doo-whop meets Jamaica, and boasts one of my favorite melodies, not to mention it’s deft use of backing vocals. I can’t help but sing along to this one.
2. Jammin’. This is easily Marley’s best dance song. And it strangely reminds me of something the bar band from Toshi Station would play. In any case, this will have feet moving and heads bouncing in no time.
1. Roots, Rock, Reggae. For me, this encompasses all that is good in Bob Marley. Pleading vocals. Horns. Piano. Bass. Drums. Backing voices. The perfect tempo. Reggae at its best.
What are your favorite Bob Marley songs?
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