Right now, this very minute, I wish I were in Jamaica, 2 a.m. Nights there on the beach at runaway bay, the heat lifting just enough, and all-day swimming with a still-wet suit on, a welcoming cool breeze, open bar, smoking and talking and just listening to the waves crash. The Piano Bar's the only thing left open, and stays open until the last indulgent visitor is done indulging in the last drink of the night. Purple Rain anyone? It goes down smooth.
I never understood Reggae, never got into it before seeing for myself the enthralling beauty, the endless sky against the despair and poverty that is Jamaica. I would say to my husband, "It all sounds so much the same." Him telling me, "Listen closer."
This isn't one of those, "I go to Nashville and now I 'get' country music" things. It's much more primal, internal--has to do with waves, tide, moon.
It's the cadence of the waves; the sea is the context for reggae. Every break of every wave comes at just the right instant in every song, embellishing, making it so much more. I can still hear it; it goes like this, as I invoke Bob Marley (play the song in your head--not just the words):
Get up, stand up
stand up for your right
Get up stand up
Don't give up the fight
Preacher man don't tell me (wave crash) heaven is under the earth (wave crash)
I know you don't know (wave crash) what life is really worth
Is not all that glitters in go--(wave crash)--ld and
Half the story has never been to--(wave crash)--ld
So now you see the light, (wave crash) aay
Stand up for your right. (wave crash) Come on.
The sea is missing in the recordings. But once you've been, you play it for yourself, bring yourself to the song, bring the sea with you.