‘I wish I’d written Redemption Song’: Stephen Marley’s honest playlist

Bob Marley’s multiple Grammy-winning son’s musical life is dominated by memories of his father. But which 60s novelty song lives rent free in his head?

The first record I bought
My father had a record store, so it was less buying a record, more saying: “Can I have this record?” But the first record I remember purchasing was One Wheel Wheelie by Early B, from Harry J’s record store in Jamaica.

The first song I remember hearing
Lively Up Yourself by Bob Marley and the Wailers which came out in 1974. I was born in 1972, so I would have been two years old. We had a turntable at home in Jamaica, so it would have been on vinyl.

The song I do at karaoke
I’ve never done karaoke. But if I was to put myself in the position, I think I would do Billie Jean by Michael Jackson. That song was played all the time in Jamaica when I was growing up – as it was all over the world – so I know all the words.

The song lyrics I know and like the best
Well, I know the lyrics to a lot of songs, but I think the lyrics to One Love by the Wailers are so uplifting, they give you hope and calm you.

The best song to play at a party
It depends on what type of party! But I’d say you can play Could You Be Loved by Bob Marley and the Wailers at any type of party, and everybody will be bumping to that.

The song I’ve streamed the most
I don’t really do a lot of streaming. I’m too busy making the music that’s going to be streamed, so I live in the studio!

The song that I secretly like but tell everyone I hate
It’s actually a song for a commercial for Downy Fabric Softener that was shown in the 80s [a take on the 1963 novelty song Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter from Camp Granada) by Allan Sherman]. I don’t normally like to watch the commercials, but I still find myself singing that one.

The song that I can no longer listen to
I Know by Bob Marley and the Wailers. That was one of the last songs that he sung on. It’s a song about when the race gets hard to run and you just can’t take the pace. I get very emotional when I listen to that one, so I skip it.

The song I wish I’d written
There are quite a few songs I wish I had written. But Redemption Song by Bob Marley and the Wailers is just a strong statement because it addresses humanity and mankind.

The song I can’t help singing
No Ordinary Love by Sade. I don’t sing it consciously. I’m always bubbling that just out of nowhere. It just speaks to me. I love the melody, the texture of her voice and the words.

The song that best reminds me of me dad
My brother’s [Ziggy Marley] music reminds me of my father. Toots and the Maytals remind me of him too, so I’ll choose their song Do the Reggay.

• Stephen Marley’s new EP Celebrating Nina: A Reggae Tribute To Nina Simone is out now


As told to Rich Pelley

The GuardianTramp

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