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High Times: You talk about dancing a lot in your songs. Do you see dancing as a form of communion with Jah?

Bob Marley: When ya dance, ya just are Jah. Ya mus' dance.

“Ya mus’ dance.” I typed the phrase into a Google search today, thinking the search would return a “no results found.” Instead, I found the Marley interview (circa 1976) that included the quotation, which I had feared would be just another figment of my fragmented imagination.

I needed to find the quote to fully understand what happened Friday night, when my friends Chris (cwmackowski), Jamie (nodressrehersal) and Jamie’s husband, Dick, saw a reggae-rockin’-rhythmic, smile-inducing show by Toots and the Maytals.

If you’re coming up a little short, information-wise, about who Toots is, check out his biography. If you don’t need that link, you already understand the title of this post.

Until about a year ago, when I heard a mind-bending Toots and the Maytals song on the radio, the only reggae I’d listened to was Marley. I tried to learn all I could about Marley when I started listening to him with the release of his “Rastaman Vibration” album in 1976, and it was impossible to read about Marley without running into the name Toots Hibbert. For some reason, though, I never checked Toots out, even though I knew that some of his songs, like “Pressure Drop,” and “Funky Kingston,” were some of the most famous songs in all of reggae. Indeed, I knew that some people said Toots was the first person to use the word “reggae” to describe the music’s contagious beat.

I felt the contagion Friday night. I can’t recall what song the band opened with; all I can remember is saying to Chris, “I gotta dance” before heading down a short flight of steps to the club floor.

I never dance, unless I have drunk all of the Champagne at a wedding reception’s head table (true story). But I had to dance Friday night. I don’t know what I looked like; I don’t care, I didn’t care. All I know is that while I was dancing, I was as close to joy as I have been in a long, long, long time. All I needed to do was keep time.

The floor filled up quickly, and there was no room to move for the rest of the show, so after two songs or so I rejoined my friends, dancing in place occasionally during the rest of the show, especially during the band’s sensational encore, “54-46 Was My Number.” When the house lights finally went up, my cheeks were sore from smiling.

For some reason, Marley’s quote about dancing has stuck to my brain for better than 30 years. Now I finally know what he meant.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 20th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)
Since your first two Toots suggestions were good ones, do you have any other Toots tunes (or full CDs) I should check out to get more hooked? (It wouldn't, btw, be the first time you'd pointed me to music I love.)
Apr. 20th, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC)
I will bring in the "True Love" CD for you to listen to tomorrow. And you will get more hooked.
Apr. 21st, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)
Ahhh...I was hoping to be able to read about the evening from your vantage point, and you didn't disappoint. I'm delighted to have been witness to and participant in the joy. There's little in life better than sore smile muscles.
Apr. 21st, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
I was glad you and Dick were along, and if you enjoyed the show just half as much as I did, you had one helluva time.
Apr. 21st, 2008 01:01 am (UTC)
We did indeed have one helluva time.

And how did the gardening go? I did my herky-jerky, willy-nilly, flitting about from here to there and back again and managed to get a ton more done than I'd even anticipated.
Apr. 21st, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
I didn't get into the garden yesterday or today. The wife of one of my golfing/pool buddies died, and I had to go to the funeral home during the afternoon. The morning involved a trip to the furniture store, shlepping the new pieces between the store and here, hauling a big old sofa to the transfer station. That pretty much killed the day.

This morning I went for a bike ride (and crashed, and got tossed ass-over-handlebars and landed on my head. Helmets work!), then got home and attacked the side lawn, which is sprinkled with a bountiful supply of my neighbor's oak leaves. Then it rained before I could get to the landscaping.

So at least one of us got some gardening done. And while my bleeding hearts are up, they're not nearly as prolific as yours. But my bearded irises look healthier than hell.

Apr. 22nd, 2008 12:56 am (UTC)
Oh my... on many fronts-- the death, the furniture hauling, and the crash.

Are you badly damaged?
Apr. 22nd, 2008 10:18 am (UTC)
I was unhurt, but it could have been serious, as I landed directly on my head -- right at what used to be the hairline. Fortunately, my helmet did just what it was supposed to do -- and fortunately, this occurred on the dikes, where I landed in the big tufts of grass.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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