There's a dead body on the beach so full of bullet holes that the ocean can't keep up with all the blood that's pouring out.
Life is ugly, life is beautiful. And Ziggy Marley's latest album, Wild and Free, finds the lifelong singer-songwriter mining themes like ego, money, and karma for nuggets of universal truth.
Last week, we spoke with the Zig man about the rest of the Marley clan, singing with Woody Harrelson and Heavy D, the American tax system, the military-industrial complex, and country music.
New Times: The lead track off your new album features Woody Harrelson. How do you know each other?
Ziggy Marley: He is an old family friend who used to hang out with Grandma in Miami. Woody is family. One day he came by the house and I invited him to sing with me. We share the same ideas and philosophy, and the song became "Wild and Free."
When did you first meet Heavy D? How did your collaboration on the song "It" happen?
I knew Heavy D for a long time. But it was only recent that we got reconnected. Both our daughters go to the same school. And while I was working on that song, he came into the studio. We were listening back on it and him had a little rap for it that sounded good, and I said, "Put somethin' on the song." He was a pioneer, an original, a great human bein', a great person, positive, and always nice. Respect to Heavy D.
You have a song called "Get Out of Town." Where were you when you wrote it? And what town are you talking about?
That's Los Angeles. Sometimes in life you just feel like you have to really get out of town. You know? We have some little farm. Be self-sufficient, get off the grid, feed yourself, and survive.
On "The Road Less Traveled," you say, "I could be like a brother sold out for a million dollar/I could be like a brother despising one another." Are you talking about your own family?
If you can find somethin' that [lyric] pertains to, then like Bob said, "Who the cap fit, let them wear it." In some ways or another, it represents that. Everybody have different priorities and principles, and I could be like that too. But it's not my principles, so I won't do that.
On the song "Mmmm Mmmm," you sing, "Justice will return my friends to give judgment to the land." Do you believe in Judgment Day?
Everybody has them Judgment Day. Everyone will have theirs as the universe dishes out justice in its own way. Even if you think you're free from the system or Man, the universe has its own way to deal with people, and them have to be careful what them doin' out there.
"Welcome to the World" is a nice song about the fear of bringing a kid into a messed-up world. Do you believe in overpopulation?
No. People come and people go. I don't worry about that. That song, me write when I have my last two children and just explaining some realities and some perspective on this world they comin' into as newborns.
The song "Elizabeth" talks a lot about Uncle Sam. What do you think about the tax system?
I say that it's like giving unto Caesar. Money isn't everything. But the people should have more say how their money is used. The tax money is used not to benefit the people, but to benefit the military-industrial complex while the people suffer. All they care for is making the bomb.
Wild and Free is full of musical quotes and lyrical references. Is that on purpose? Or does it just happen that way?
There's nothing new under the sun. Everything just come and go around. Something could be inside my mind for years, making influence. It's not deliberate. It's just always been a part of the consciousness.
What's your favorite country song?
"You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em/Know when to walk away, know when to run"... But me can't remember who do it.
Kenny Rogers's "The Gambler"?
Yeah. [Laughs.] "The Gambler."