Music

The 30 Best Bob Marley Songs Not on ‘Legend’

There’s little that can be said about Bob Marley that hasn’t already: he’s a cultural icon, a global ambassador for peace and “One Love,” and one of the most recognizable figures — even beyond music — around the globe.

When it comes to that music, the entry point for most fans is Legend, the 1984 greatest hits compilation that is one of the most successful albums released in the history of recorded music. It has a slew of hits that most people know by their first note, and numerous lyrics (“every little thing gonna be alright” from “Three Little Birds,” “let’s get together and feel aright” from “One Love / People Get Ready”) that have been completely absorbed into popular culture around the world.

But for all of Legend’s iconic songs — which applies pretty much to its entire track list — the compilation tends to focus on the happy, loving and light songs of the Marley canon. It can have the effect, for those who don’t want to or haven’t gone deeper, of glossing over much of the message that Marley was sending throughout his lifetime in his Island Records discography. That message is the reason he’s still revered as a champion for the downtrodden the world over: one of fighting against oppression, of supporting those who cannot speak for themselves and of using his greatest gifts as a musician to shine a light on those who have often lived in the darkness.

Here are one writer’s selections — agonizingly pared down, with many great tracks not included — of the 30 best Bob Marley songs that you won’t find on Legend’s track list.

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