Old pirates, yes, they rob I,
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.

But my 'and was made strong
By the 'and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly.

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but our self can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it's just a part of it,
We've got to fulfill de book.

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but our self can free our mind.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall dey kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it's just a part of it,
We've got to fulfill de book.

Won't you help to sing,
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever had,
Redemption songs.
All I ever had,
Redemption songs
These songs of freedom
Songs of freedom



Lyrics submitted by kevin

"Redemption Song" as written by Edwin Hawkins, Bob Marley

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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Redemption Song song meanings
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81 Comments

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  • +3
    General Comment:I think there have been some good comments on here, but I would like to center on two lines of the song I believe to be improperly treated and, in fact, related in an interesting way. The lines are:
    "emancipate yourselves from mental slavery..."
    "we've got to fulfill the book"

    Here Bob is engaged in what's called reification critique. That is, he's challenging people to think critically about their surroundings and stop taking as "natural" or "inevitable" events or situations that are products of human agency.

    Why would people make such a mistake?
    Well, according to (some interpretations of) Marx, the working class, or proletariat, suffers from "false consciousness." This false consciousness causes them to see capitalist expropriation as an inevitable outgrowth of material conditions, and even to identify with their oppressors in one way or another. The proletariat is much stronger than the bourgeoisie, but, because of this false consciousness, the proletariat fails to realize its revolutionary potential.

    In other words, in order to achieve political emancipation, the proletariat must first achieve mental emancipation. And only they can do that.


    I believe that Bob is referring to Christian eschatology in the second part. The book he is referring to is The Bible, specifically Revelation. There are those that would remain defeated when their leaders are murdered - or might even praise it in a strange way. This is because Revelation predicts things must get much worse before they get better - ie. Jesus returns. Thus, any attempt to better one's position is to go against God's will. One should welcome persecution, because that means The End - and Christian redemption - is nigh.

    Bob clearly does not like this attitude.

    So, there it is, in both of these lines, he's addressing arguments against a revolution of the proletariat. Get Up, Stand up!
    gnomeklptoon April 23, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:what the heck are yo talking about jews killing jesus?
    angelgarbageon May 03, 2002   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaning:I think that the book Bob is referring to is a supposed lost, second part of the Bible. Basically what it boils down to is that Rastas believe that Ethiopians are descendents of the exiled people of Isreal, and that the coronation of Haile Selassie was predicted in the Bible, and that he is Jesus reincarnated (there is a lot of cool stuff you can read about how they justify this, Google "Lion of Judah" and "Rastafari" to get a better sense of it, I am no expert I'm just giving the gist of it). They believe that among the exiled peoples of Isreal, one of the tribes carried the Arc of the Covenant. According to Rastas, in the Arc of the Covenant is an additional holy book which contains a wealth of African-specific wisdom and spiritual truth.

    I've read quite a few comments that claim that Bob was anti-religious. This is so false, he was not only spiritual but extremely religious: a complete zealot of Rastafari. Ratsafarians believe that over history and through many translations that the Bible has been corrupted and anglicized, changed to marginalize Africans and pander to Europeans. They contend that since we know the human species originated in Africa, that Adam and Eve were Africans, and the Garden of Eden and Mount Zion must be in Africa. So when Bob denounces religion (which he does do pretty often, like in "Get Up, Stand Up") he is criticizing the modern, white-washed version of Christianity.

    I don't really know how this all fits into the whole song, but I am pretty sure that the book is a lost portion of the bible. I think that "We've got to fulfill the book" is an argument AGAINST "Some say it's just a part of it". In other words, I think he is saying that Africans shouldn't just accept oppression as a part of life, but that they should live up to the ideals of the true message of the bible, a message that has been diluted and corrupted over the course of human history.
    brimah87on June 20, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:It has come to me trough te Ziggy Marley and The Chieftains version. I think it should be an anthem for all the lost people in this lost generation.
    donjoseon March 17, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:It has come to me trough te Ziggy Marley and The Chieftains version. I think it should be an anthem for all the lost people in this lost generation.
    donjoseon March 17, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:My favorite lines from this song are
    "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery
    None but ourselves can free our minds"
    Bob wasn't just a gnarley stoner, he was a prophet.
    NattyDreadon April 18, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:What do you guys think "Have no fear for atomic energy
    'Cause none of them can stop the time" means?
    Maybe that not even an atom bomb can stop us?
    NattyDreadon April 18, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:hey natty i think it refers to bob's view of religion and man. that despite man's atomic power it is ultimately the higher being that dictates, that man can't cause the end of creation, because its not in his hands.
    H-bombon April 26, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:I agree with what you guys have posted, and I especially like the lyric: "How long shall they kill our prophets
    While we stand aside and look." The people in power kill all who oppose them because they are afraid of losing their power. Men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Bob Marley were seen as threats to the current power structure, and they were eliminated. Just like the Jews in power who had Jesus killed, we stand and watch and don't do anything about it. These martyrs give their lives in an attempt to help us free our minds, and we don't do anything about it. It's time to do something.
    MrMojoRisin5552on May 03, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:you*
    angelgarbageon May 03, 2002   Link

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