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life, on shuffle (#3) | Rock's Backpages Writers' Blogs

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/2009/03/life-on-shuffle-3/) (http://rocksbackpages.com /join.html) Author: Mitchell Cohen Academic Subs

(http://www.rocksbackpagesblogs.com/author /emscee/) 22 Mar 2009 (http://www.rocksbackpages.com #3 – Lively Up Yourself – Bob Marley & The Wailers (Island) /group.html) So I get a call from an editor at Phonograph Record Magazine asking me if I’d like to interview Bob Marley.

Get Newsletter (http://www.rocksbackpages.com Well, yeah. When is he going to be in town? /join_mail.html

Turns out he isn’t. Which I should’ve known, since I had only

Free on RBP recently seen Marley & The Wailers play an insanely great concert (http://www.rocksbackpages.com in Central Park (June 18, 1975), and that U.S. tour had ended in July. /free.html) Audio There are tickets to Kingston being left for me at the Air Jamaica (http://rocksbackpages.com counter, and a representative from Island Records will be down there to see that everything goes smoothly, and, oh, this is a cover /audio.html) story and the deadline is like in four days. Have fun. OK. This is

Contact around the time of ‘Natty Dread,’ and Marley is blowing up. At this (http://rocksbackpages.com point, I am not really smoking much pot anymore. I’d had my little /contact.html) fling (#) with grass when I was in college, but my friends had started taking the whole drug thing too far for my liking, so when I Writers started grad school, and started writing about film and music, I’d (http://rocksbackpages.com pretty much stopped getting high. This piece of information will be /writers.html) useful as the tale unfolds.

Writers' Being a rock journalist in the ‘70s, even a second-tier one, was kind Blogs of a blast. Record companies were throwing press parties, and (http://www.rocksbackpagesblogs.c buying lunches, and flying us around, and sending us boxes and boxes of LP’s. I mean, it wasn’t all wine & vinyl, and sometimes you Syndication had to do stupid shit like fly to Virginia to see the Charlie Daniels (http://rocksbackpages.com Band, but nonetheless, it was fun, or at least fun-ish. Which a free /services.html) (#) trip to Jamaica would qualify as, right?

Magazine I get to Kingston, and go to the hotel, and it is raining hard. That Archive tropical August rain. I meet the Island Records Guy, and it turns (http://rocksbackpages.com out that Marley is not quite ready to be interviewed, so we should /archive hang. If the sun had been out, I’d have grabbed a Red Stripe and /index.html) enjoyed the pool. But there isn’t much to do in a downpour. Except About Us

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wait for Marley. And wait. Finally, Island Guy decides that maybe we should be doing something productive, and he takes me to

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life, on shuffle (#3) | Rock's Backpages Writers' Blogs

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interview Toots Hibbert of the Maytals, and Perry Henzell, the (http://rocksbackpages.com

when-were-

/about.html)

not-doing-

Press Room

(http://rocksbackpages.com/library.html) Group director ofLibrary ‘The Harder They Come,’ and it looks like this piece is Subscribe (http://www.rocksbackpages.com/group.html) going to be more about reggae in general than Marley specifically. I Subscribe (http://rocksbackpages.com/join.html) Get can live with that.

(http://www.rocksbackpages.com Newsletter (http://www.rocksbackpages.com/join_mail.html) morning, still no Marley. Still with the rain. I ask /pressroom.htmlBut the next Free on RBP (http://www.rocksbackpages.com/free.html) Island Guy if I can at least go into town and go record shopping.

Audio (http://rocksbackpages.com/audio.html) Contact Your Account He’ll check. Umm, not advisable for a couple of white guys to (http://rocksbackpages.com/contact.html) Writers (http://rocksbackpages.com venture into Kingston on their own, so we’ll have to get somebody (http://rocksbackpages.com/writers.html) Writers' to escort us. This large Jamaican fellow shows up at the hotel Blogs and /subscription.html (http://www.rocksbackpagesblogs.com/) Syndication drives us into town, where we have to dart out of the car, go to one Home (http://rocksbackpages.com/services.html) Magazine of those kiosks with a slot for the exchange of money (#) and 45s, (http://rocksbackpages.com which areArchive ordered(http://rocksbackpages.com/archive/index.html) by title off a piece of paper taped to the wall, /index.html) scramble About back into car, and split. Not my usual record-browsing Us the (http://rocksbackpages.com/about.html) Press experience — usually, there isn’t much threat of bodily harm, Room (http://www.rocksbackpages.com/pressroom.html) unless Your I reach suddenly for some rare garage-band 45 that a rabid Account (http://rocksbackpages.com/subscription.html) collector has visually seized upon – but I do still have some of Home (http://rocksbackpages.com/index.html) those singles…

All right. Finally, we get the call, and we go over to Marley’s house. Pleasantries are exchanged, and refreshments (fruit) are offered. Marley is smoking a joint. Only it’s not like any joint. You know how in ‘Sleeper,’ Woody Allen cavorts among giant vegetables? This is the joint version of that. It is a megaphone of joints. If a normal joint is a soprano flute, this is a baritone sax. Do I want some? Sure, I say, thinking the joint will be passed to me, I will try and lift it to my mouth, take a hit, pass it back, and get on with the purpose of my visit. Nope. One of Marley’s aides rolls me one of comparable proportion. Uh…thanks? Very quickly, I am stoned. But professional. I turn on the tape recorder and start asking questions, but there is a certain…hazy disconnect. I ask about a recent U.S. TV appearance, a show at Max’s he’d done a couple of years back with a young Bruce Springsteen, the recent death of Haile Selassie (“Can’t kill God,’ Marley insists, which makes Selassie’s passing a non-issue), politics. I’m lobbing these softballs, but he’s playing soccer. It is an interview remarkable only in its vagueness. But surely there is enough here to cobble a piece for PRM. Still buzzed, I fly home to NY and plan to pull an all-nighter to meet my deadline. I turn on the cassette player, and what I hear is stoned gibberish. Tick-tock. I dig out all my Marley records, my notes from the Hibbert and Henzell interviews, search my fuzzy brain for snatches of what Marley said (he confused, somehow, Bruce Springsteen with Pete Wingfield of “Eighteen With A Bullet” fame, so that line of questioning was a dead-end), go to my manual typewriter, and peck away. And collapse. The next morning, I overnight my pages to PRM. The article wasn’t so memorable, but I get to tell people that I got really, really high with Bob Marley at his home in Kingston, and they seem to find this amusing.

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life, on shuffle (#3) | Rock's Backpages Writers' Blogs

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One Response to life, on shuffle (#3)

Tim Footman (http://culturalsnow.blogspot.com/) says: Sounds like a Camberwell carrot. But confusing Springsteen with Pete Wingfield? I mean, Bruce isn’t *that* good, surely? Reply

Leave a Reply

MEDIA BLACKOUT #303

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March 23, 2009 at 2:46 am (http://www.rocksbackpagesblogs.com/2009/03 /life-on-shuffle-3/#comment-253)

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http://www.rocksbackpagesblogs.com/2009/03/life-on-shuffle-3/

(http://www.amazon.com /InterviewJoey-RamoneBarneyHoskyns /dp/B0018U35N0 /ref=sr_1_40?ie=UTF8& qid=1326723575& sr=8-40) Essential RBP Audio: Jawing with Joey and Dee Dee Ramone (http://www.amazon.com /InterviewJoey-RamoneBarneyHoskyns /dp/B0018U35N0 /ref=sr_1_40?ie=UTF8& qid=1326723575& sr=8-40)

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2/23/12 8:42 PM


Life on Shuffle