#16 Why reggae – episode #1

Back then, HMV in Hong Kong would do a crazy sale every summer. A lot of CDs were around HKD 30 to 40 (USD 4 – 5) a piece (maybe cheaper?) – perfect for a student who didn’t have much spare money.

As unexciting as it could be, the Legend by Bob Marley was the first reggae CD I picked up, from a crazy sale, and the guitar solo in No Woman No Cry was one of the solos I learned by repeating the track endlessly. Forward a few years, I was a sophomore at Indiana University Bloomington, and I made a friend in the intermediate guitar class because he heard me playing that solo before class started. Turned out we were both business majors. I don’t even remember his name now, but I recall him being a handsome guy and had a beautiful girlfriend. We didn’t see each again till senior year, and he already had a great job lined up. He is probably very rich now, owns a nice house, kids and everything.

But anyhow, I learned much about Bob Marley. His songs always got nice hooks, and his lyrics are not as difficult to listen to compared to a lot of other English songs. It took me many years to really understand what does “no woman no cry” mean though.

A few summers later, in the TST HMV, I bought the Toots and the Maytals greatest hits CD. A completely different kind of reggae, and so much energy! And who knew I would would have two chances to see him many years later, and even opened for him? (More about seeing Toots in a later post.) The funny thing about the Toots CD is that, the text in the little booklet were printed backwards? Maybe there’s a secret message hidden in there, like the writings of Leonardo Da Vinci?

The Adelante / Forward / Transglobal Soul Movement was the last reggae CD I got in Hong Kong before attending school in the US. To be honest, I remember not enjoying it as much. Maybe my reggae soundscape at that point was Marley and Toots, and the Adelante CD was a bit too modern to my taste? But the title track is interesting – a reggae version of Erik Satie’s Gnossienne #1!

These CDs laid the foundation to my never-ending reggae quest.

(Continue on Why reggae – Episode 2)

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