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Phuket Opinion: For the Love of Bob



PHUKET: Many years ago, backpacking through Malaysia, I found myself at a hostel one night swapping stories and listening to a fellow traveller playing guitar and singing.

When the dreadlocked musician asked if any of us had any requests I jumped in with “play some Bob Marley” assuming that he would have at least a dozen Marley songs in his repertoire.

His response, “No way, I hate Bob Marley”, shocked and baffled me; how could anyone hate Bob Marley? It wasn’t until I moved to Phuket that I finally understood how a person could come to hate the King of Reggae.

When I first arrived here, I was staying in a cheap hotel in close proximity to several reggae bars.

Being a reggae fan, I thought “well, even if the music is a bit loud, at least it will be a type that I enjoy”.

Little did I know that in Phuket the musical genre known as reggae is actually shorthand for Bob Marley, and despite his vast catalogue of songs, it seems that only ten of his greatest hits ever made the journey from Jamaica to Phuket.

So after the hundredth repetition of No Woman, No Cry at ear-piercing volume at 2 o’clock in the morning, I have come to understand and empathize with the musician I met all those years ago.

Now, my lifelong love of Bob Marley’s music has all but ended and I find myself crossing the street to avoid reggae bars pumping out non-stop Marley.

It has come to the point where I am pondering the possibility of setting up a charitable “Save Bob” foundation, with the aim of replacing all Bob Marley CDs on the island with mix CDs containing a wide range of reggae music, not to mention its offspring genres such as dancehall, one drop and dub.

So to all owners of reggae bars in Phuket I beg of you, for the love of Bob, find some new reggae music!

— Mark Knowles


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