FFC: Looking Back … to the 70’s

In Amanda’s Friendly Friday Challenge she takes us back to the ’70s and recalls childhood days in Australia. Looking back, she asks: If you lived through the sixties and seventies, what stands out for you?

Aside from Beaches, Bananas and Harry Belafonte, my birth country of Jamaica is known for Bob Marley, Reggae music and Ganja. All three were associated with Rastafarianism, with Bob Marley being the most famous proponent.

When I was growing up, reggae and dub music was always on the radio. It was the local sound, intermittently displaced by the imported tunes of Motown, R&B and Pop. I don’t recall liking reggae much. I was more likely to sing “ABC” by the Jackson 5 than “I shot the Sheriff” by Bob Marley. But it was Eric Clapton’s cover of “I Shot the Sheriff” that launched Bob Marley and reggae into international fame.

I didn’t realise how far reaching the music was until forty years later. I was travelling the backroads of northern Thailand when my guide popped in a CD with Exodus. Suddenly, I was transported back to my childhood. As we rocked to the beat, I looked out the window and thought this place looks just like the country roads in Jamaica. I had another jolt from the past when walking through Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. There, amongst the kitsch and sundry, I stumbled upon a stall dedicated entirely to reggae regalia.

Even more surprising was finding reggae in Shanghai. In this video, Chinese MC Jado does a great, if unexpected, rendition of Chinese lyrics sung to a reggae beat. It also examines the link between China and Jamaica, dating back to the early 1900s when people left China to work in the Caribbean. That’d include my people from my ancestral village in Guangdong.

Reggae has its roots in the poor and disenfranchised people of colonial Jamaica. It isn’t so surprising that the music resonates with other underprivileged people. In China, the Yunnan-based reggae band Kawa use their music to capture the words and chants of their Wa origins. Yunnan is the province that straddles the border of China and Myanmar. It is also the most ethnically diverse region in China, home to twenty-six different ethnic minority groups.

Nowadays, reggae is part of the international mainstream and Bob Marley’s music is considered classic. I instantly recognise the opening chords of Exodus, Buffalo Soldier and No Woman No Cry. I can even sing along. The songs of The Jackson 5 and Partridge Family? Not so much.

Many thanks to Amanda for this walk down the past. Do you have a flashback story to tell? Why don’t cha? There’s still two more weeks of the Friendly Friday Challenge: Looking back to the Future

23 Comments

  1. What a fascinating mix of cultures and music styles. I’m all in favour of such mixes. In my home reggae was always strong. Father’s “Legend” CD was on repeat for decades. And when Linton Kwesi Johnson paid a visit, I was in the first row in ecstasy and a total convert. In fact, I will play him right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There you go. Growing up in Jamaica, I had absolutely no idea that Bob Marley was popular in Yugoslavia – Slovenia. It’s really amazing how that small island sound spread all over the world!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’ll be amused to know that when in London years ago, I purposefully searched out Bob Marley Street (or Lane, don’t remember) in my fat London all-street guide and I went far out of the centre to take a photo of it. And when Slovenia had its first census after independence, my friend caused great anger with his atheist mom when he proclaimed his religion Rastafari. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fun post, and I’d love to read more about your Jamaican childhood. If you have written about it already, please direct me there in the form of a link!? 😀
    Anyway, I fell in love with reggae as a teenager in the 90’s. First it was Bob Marley but then I started dancing Dancehall reggae at a dance school (as a hobby) and the Finnish woman who taught us and brought it to Finland just then, for the very first time, had spent years jamming in Jamaica and would talk about Jamaican people and life during classes in a adoring way. Since I was an impressionable 15-year-old, it did have a large impact on me. Nowadays, I never listen to Bob because he is very overplayed. A few years back, I listened to a lot of fusion reggae/ska/surf guitar but then I moved on to samba classes and reggaeton music… 🤪 Something sunny, for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Give me a few days and you’ll hear a bit more about my time in Jamaica 🙂
      Sounds like you’re much more up to date with music than I am! I don’t even know what regaeton music. I can see that you really love the sunnier climes 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Reggae and was listening to it from age 12, 1970. Bob Marley is a favourite of mine and Stevie Wonder did a couple of songs also. Do you remember Dave and Ansel Collins, a Jamaican duo from the 70s. I loved their music. You didn’t hear reggae much on the radio anymore

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just like Yeah, Another Blogger, (awesome username btw), I am surprised at the global reach of Reggae and it is kind of a jolt to think that reggae reached all the way back to China. But it shouldn’t – it is catchy and folksy and very sing-a-longsy! Those songs you mentioned I started instantly singing in my head, despite my limited interactions with Reggae.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You made me wonder if there are any Aussie reggae bands. According to Google & Youtube there are!
      Fabulous that you know those songs. Whenever I hear them, it triggers instant memories.

      Like

    1. Maybe because we lived in Beijing 🙂 I’ve always thought that Beijing was bit more conservative than Shanghai. In any event, I only found out about reggae in China recently myself. Glad you liked the videos.

      Like

  5. One of my fondest memories was the Reggae Band that played at my oldest son, David, wedding. The bride requested No Woman, No Cry and they couldn’t remember the words to the song. A little too much ganga, perhaps. Anyway, my son, Andrew, took the microphone and sang for the newlyweds.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is pretty amazing. It’s mindblowing to see how things have evolved from their beginnings. Music is one, but as well the adoption of dreadlocks by the Yunnan band leader. I don’t even know how they do it. But now I see natty ‘dreads in all nationalities and age groups. But that’s probably a story for another post 🙂

      Always a pleasure to hear from you!

      Liked by 1 person

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