In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: We’re talking about songs we heard once and then had to seek out.
I like Bob Marley. I’m not afraid to say it. I don’t like a lot of the people who like Bob Marley, but I like his tunes just fine. I even choose to listen to them from time to time.
A lot of that appreciation came from this dude I dated in college. He had a compilation or set of MP3s or whatever people had in 2003 made up of early Marley tracks, from when the singer was more of Wailing Rudeboy than a Rastafari legend. Songs like “Simmer Down” helped Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso, and Cherry Smith hit the charts in Jamaica as early as 1964. Those tracks are infused with upbeat ska and bear all the childhood whimsy that Marley—then only about 19 years old—must have had at the time.
Around that time, as Bob Marley & The Wailing Wailers, the gang released the sweet, dubby “Mellow Mood.” I fell in love with it when I heard it 12-odd years ago, but somehow lost the name of the track in the intervening years. And when, recently, I started Googling the lines I remembered—“I’ll play your favorite song, darling. You can rock it all night long, darling”—all I’d get was a more modern version of “Mellow Mood,” all slowed-down, drugged up, and devoid of all energy and light. It was disappointing, to say the least.
And yet I persevered, plowing through Wailers discographies and tracklists of various reggae compilations. Lo and behold, I found the original “Mellow Mood,” a track so perfect and summery that instantly I knew it was worth all the effort. Praise be to the internet for both bringing me the song the first time and reintroducing me to its glory all these years later.