cover image So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley

So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley

Roger Steffens. Norton, $29.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-393-05845-1

In his page-turning oral history of Bob Marley (1945–1981), Steffens, a reggae historian and producer of a one-man show about Marley’s life, brings the singer to life through conversations with his bandmates, lovers, family members, and musical associates. Through this thoroughly engaging history, readers learn about the sometimes uneasy working relationships at Coxson Dodd’s Studio One in Kingston, Jamaica, during the early days of the Wailers; Rita Marley’s revelatory encounter with Haile Selassie, the Rasta god, on Apr. 21, 1966; and the responses of Carl Colby Jr. (son of former CIA director William Colby) to accusations that Carl tried to have Marley killed. In one conversation, Bunny Wailer (Neville O’Riley Livingston) recalls with joyous insight Marley’s songwriting process—“Bob writes bits of songs, as the inspiration come him write, and then him just put them bits there together.” Two of Marley’s band members, Gilly Gilbert and Danny Sims, recall the nights in 1980 when they opened for the Commodores at Madison Square Garden and more than half the audience left when the Wailers finished their set. In this highly entertaining and informative history, Steffens also includes dozens of photos from his own archive. (July)