An Analysis of Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Up Stand Up”

This week, I came back from a wonderful vacation in Jamaica. (Yeah, mon!) During that vacation, I was reacquainted with the music of Bob Marley, including his profound song “Get Up, Stand Up.” The following is my understanding of what it means. Every word that follows that is not bold is a song lyric, and every word that is bold is my commentary on the preceding song lyrics.

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!

You should be very active to protect and promote your rights.

Preacherman, don’t tell me,
Heaven is under the earth.

The singer does not want to hear some doctrine about Heaven being somewhere other than Earth.

I know you don’t know
What life is really worth.

Christian clerics often talk like they know the meaning of human life in this universe and how valuable it is, but they don’t.

It’s not all that glitters is gold;

Many of the doctrines of the Christian clerics sound pretty, but they are not valuable or helpful.

‘Alf the story has never been told:

Simply speaking, when it comes to religion, the Christian clerics only tell partial truths, when they tell any truths at all. They tell their beliefs, but they do not tell their listeners that they (the clerics) might easily have false beliefs.

So now you see the light, eh!
Stand up for your rights. Come on!

Now you understand the truth, so be very active to promote your rights.

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!

You should be very active to protect and promote your rights.

Most people think,
Great God will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.

In many nations, most people believe that God will intervene in history sometime in the future and fix every problem. God will take away all suffering and death, and make everyone feel very happy.

But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:

In contrast to that hope-in-God-fixing-everything-in-the-future belief, we should work to make this life better now. We should work to make Earth more like Heaven rather than wait for God to do it for us.

And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights. Jah!

Now you understand the truth, so be very active to promote your rights.

Get up, stand up! (Jah, Jah!)
Stand up for your rights! (Oh-hoo!)
Get up, stand up! (Get up, stand up!)
Don’t give up the fight! (Life is your right!)
Get up, stand up! (So we can’t give up the fight!)
Stand up for your rights! (Lord, Lord!)
Get up, stand up! (Keep on struggling on!)
Don’t give up the fight! (Yeah!)

You should be very active to protect and promote your rights.

We sick an’ tired of-a your ism-skism game –
Dyin’ ‘n’ goin’ to heaven in-a Jesus’ name, Lord.

We people who are not deceived by religions don’t want to hear any more about what religion is true or false, and we don’t want to hear any more Christian theology.

We know when we understand:
Almighty God is a living man.

We know the truth when we understand that we living humans will do much more to fix the Earth’s problems than God will–assuming that we choose to fix those problems.

You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can’t fool all the people all the time.

The promoters of religion have tricked many people into believing their false teachings, but they haven’t fooled everyone.

So now we see the light (What you gonna do?),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (Yeah, yeah, yeah!)

We people who are not deceived by religions now understand the truth, so we will be very active to promote our rights.

So you better:
Get up, stand up! (In the morning! Git it up!)
Stand up for your rights! (Stand up for our rights!)
Get up, stand up!
Don’t give up the fight! (Don’t give it up, don’t give it up!)
Get up, stand up! (Get up, stand up!)
Stand up for your rights! (Get up, stand up!)
Get up, stand up! ( … )
Don’t give up the fight! (Get up, stand up!)
Get up, stand up! ( … )
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don’t give up the fight! [fadeout]

You should be very active to protect and promote your rights.

* In summary, work to make your life here as good as it can be, and don’t rely on a better life to come through some miraculous intervention or life after death. Demand equal and fair treatment now, and don’t settle for being treated unequally or unfairly.

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