Thursday, August 21, 2014

Misinterpreting Marley's 'Who the cap fit' .......... Man To Man is So Unjust as Anti Gay


Blakka Ellis 


Hear wha mi a say today. Call me a nerd, or whatever, but I have a fascination with literary analysis and lyrical interpretation. Yes, exploring the meanings, themes and ideas in poems, songs and stories was probably the single most enjoyable aspect of my life as a student. Mi kinda weird, doh? Yeah, man, and that also was the most fulfilling part of my work in a former life as a teacher of high school Literature.

So when one of my nephews sought to engage me in a conversation some years ago, about the meaning of the lyrics in some of Bob Marley's songs, I was pleased as punch and ready to reason.

The pleasure soon evaporated though, when the youngster reluctantly accepted that although my arguments and explanations made sense, he still held on firmly to the view that Marley actually spoke out against homosexuality in his music. And the example he cited was 'man to man is so unjust, you don't know who to trust' - the opening lyrics from the song Who The Cap Fit.

Well, I felt that such a gross misinterpretation of Marley's lyrics was probably forgivable in the case of my nephew because he, admittedly, had never, ever yet 'read off a whole book' yet, and didn't pay much attention in school.

It was much harder to forgive an educated man, MP Dr. Dayton Campbell, who used the same flawed interpretation when he quoted Marley in a twitter rail against American singer Frank Ocean after his performance on the Grammy Awards show last year. According to news sources at the time, the MP tweeted "Frank Ocean man fi have ooman pon dem mind. How di hell man end up on your mind massah?? 

Bob done tell you say man to man is so unjust!!!"

Of course, the tweet lit up a mini firestorm about the politician's perceived anti-gay stance, and appropriateness of his comments etc. with biting remarks and fighting words coming from both attacking and defending poles. But that area is not my focus. My issue is with the literary analysis and what I see as misinterpretation of Marley's words. And guess what, I'm now discovering that Dr Campbell and my nephew are not alone in their 'misconscrewed' view. Well, students, teacha say a never dat Bob mean by 'man to man is so unjust'. No hyah!

OK, I can stretch my brain enough to maybe imagine how the idea of 'man to man is so unjust' could vaguely possibly be about sex and sexuality. Here's how. Like, for instance in the case of say, some lonely heterosexual women now, who could understandably be justified in feeling that it's unfair or 'unjust' for men to be going with other men, when they are there willing, able, available and horny, but unable to get men to go with them. But that's a hell of a stretch. I don't think Mr Marley was singing from that standpoint.

Anyone who attempts a serious interpretation of the song [one that takes into account the other verses and chorus] would agree with me that those initial lines are referring to the unfair and [bad mind] ways in which human beings deal with each other. And although the word used is 'man', the song is clearly [as in the case of plenty biblical references] using man to refer to all human beings.

Di song a talk about people generally, woman, man and 'others', and how dem wicked and deceptive. Marley was reminding unnu say 'your worst enemy, could be your best friend and your best friend your worst enemy', so watch some a dem, how dem 'eat and drink with you, then behind dem su-su pon yu'.

Is that kind of unjust way, how man deal wid man, Bob Marley did a pree! So stop twist and mix up the words of the Gong. 

What? 

Who me a talk? 

Who di cap fit!

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