Ziggy Marley carries the torch
Q Where you living now, Ziggy?
A California, Florida, Jamaica – mostly California. (Where I) make music with different people with different experiences in life, which I like. No one thing is a permanent situation. Every time there is change in life it’s for a reason. Every time you live with it until there’s time for another change. This is where I’m supposed to be at this time, but there’s more change to come.
Q You are certainly outspoken on the new record (“Wild and Free,” released June 14).
A There’s so much things in the world today. So much negative things, really. But it hurts. It hurts me as a human being to see these negative things in our world. Environmental catastrophe. Suffering of other people. Economic depression. We are inspired by these things to try and sing about ways out and consciousness and spirituality and love and truth. I think truth is a big thing. Telling the truth is a big thing that is missing in this world.
Q It sure would be a better world if people were true about their intentions.
A Every single one of us, there is some kind of truth that doesn’t meet their objective. They’ve got to get their objectives done regardless of truth. That’s the main focus, because the truth really does matter.
Q Your song “Mmm, mmm” is very powerful. It reminds me of “Redemption Song.”
A “Mmm, mmm” is a spiritual song. It’s a song when you are writing, you get goose bumps. Something about this song is really deep. Yes, it is a special song.
Q The album ends with “Elizabeth,” which sounds to me like the old rock steady reggae from the ’60s. Am I on the right track here?
A That song is a very strange song to me. It’s the strangest song on the record. It has elements of that, yes. It was a bit of an afterthought because I’ve had that song for so long sitting around waiting to do something, and I was like, all right, I’m going to put it on this record. I have so many different versions of that song. It is a little from the rock steady region.
Q I am sure you know Toots Hibbert, who told me he was unhappy with modern reggae music. He calls it “Shreggae.” I appreciate your keeping your music traditional. What do you think of the new stuff?
A To me, the music that we play is spiritual music. The younger generation today in a way does not feel that strong connection to the spirit. It’s more material as in physical things. It is a phenomenon around the world, the younger generation, they don’t identify with spiritual things. They identify more with material things. Because of what influences society is faced upon them. So the music changes. So a lot of them are unfamiliar with this energy that is in reggae. They are unfamiliar with it and don’t know how to deal with it. But reggae is a music that will never die, it will never go away because it’s a spirit music. Spirit music lasts for generations like the Bible or great works of art, the “Mona Lisa,” those things last for all times. Other things last for a period of time but them cannot last. Another thing about it is it appeals to the whole universe. What a lot of the young kids are doing today only appeal to a small portion of the earth. But what we do appeal to all of the earth, every human being. That is the difference from reggae and what them call dance hall music or whatever they want to call it. Reggae music appeals to every living thing that there is on the earth while the dance hall thing appeals to certain type of people but reggae music appeals to every people. I’ll put it that way.
Q Do you feel you have a responsibility to make this music because of your father?
A I think this is a part of me. Luckily I grew up in the middle to end period of this spiritual music. The next generation don’t get that. They don’t have that feeling, they don’t know. I know it because I grew up within it. I don’t think I do it because it’s my responsibility. I do it because it’s what I do naturally. I cannot try to be what I am not. I can only be what I am, and this music is what I am.
Q Bob Marley and John Lennon were beloved by millions and they sang for peace. The voices of you and Julian Lennon sound so much like their fathers. Have you ever met Julian?
A Yeah, I met Julian and his brother.
Q What did they say?
A They were telling me keep making music, don’t stop making music.
Q I understand you are making a documentary about your father. Can you tell me about it?
A We’re working on a couple of documentaries. One is my father’s documentary done this fall or next summer. Really, this is the definitive documentary. There is a lot of things that have been done but this is the first time I am intimately involved with, so I feel we have to make something special for the people. There is a full spectrum for Bob as an artist and a human being. This is the most emotional film that has ever been done about him. And I think after this one you might don’t need another one. This really express the full emotions of Bob’s life. So that is coming out soon.
And there’s one coming out for TV about a trip I took with my brother through South Africa during the World Cup. We did a motorcycle trip and we filmed it.
Q You have a comic book (released April 20) called “Marijuana Man.” The story was written by Joe Casey and inked by Jim Mahfood and the hero’s credo is “Hope of the future.” What is your role with that project?
A The role is to share ideas and kind of control where it’s going and see if it’s going where I like it to go, and say yes and no and maybe ‘dis’ and maybe ‘dat.’
Q You live in California where Proposition 19 called for the
legalization of marijuana. It lost. What will it take for it to pass?
A I’ve spoken to a lot of people who supported medicinal use and the thing is that I was fighting for all of the plant, everything the plant can do, not just one aspect of it. When you only choose one aspect of it you’re limited in the amount of support you can get because maybe some people don’t like the smoking but if you tell them the whole story, look, choose everything here.
People accept the drilling for oil, yes? They accept that, yet they know there’s a part of it they might not like. And they accept nuclear energy, yet they know one mistake the fallout could be so dangerous but they say look at the wider picture. This is what about I would say about marijuana hemp. Even if there’s one aspect of it they don’t like, there’s a million other aspects that they like. Medicinal, recreational, if you don’t like that, check this out, and then let’s free the plant.
Q I say it comes back to what you said earlier about the truth and people’s objectives. Synthetic drugs is a big business, corporations. How can you over come that?
A We have become so complacent. So not in tune, so not active. We’re being taken advantage of and we’re being laughed at by governments and by countries because they have got us. They feel they can do anything they want because we won’t do anything about it. They know now. They have manipulated us to the level where the divide-and -rule concept has worked very well for them even in this political system in America between Republicans and Democrats and these type of things. It has worked so effectively that the people to stand up for the truth, one side is the truth and the other side is against the truth, so you will never get that unification of people about one idea because the manipulation within the media. Until we unify this will always be the situation.