February 6, 2023
BOB Marley’s songs are eternal. But not many people outside his inner circle know what went into creating those classics.
For Wake Up and Live, it was an early morning trip to the country. Anthony “Sangie” Davis, who is credited as co-writer of that song with Marley, shares how it came to life.
“It was early one Sunday morning; about 5:30/6:00, Bob come wake mi up. Him did just come back [to Jamaica]. Mi neva see him fi about two years due to the shooting at him house. This was about 1978,” Davis, 80, told the Jamaica Observer in a 2013 interview.
Davis was born in Denham Town, west Kingston. He said he first met Marley in Trench Town during the late 1960s. At the time of Marley’s visit he was living in Grant’s Pen, St Andrew.
“Bob seh: ‘Sangie, you nuh get yuh [driver’s] licence yet?’ and I said: ‘Mi get it Thursday,’ ” he recalled.
He remembers Marley handing him the keys to his yellow Volkswagen van and that they headed to his (Marley’s) birthplace in Nine Miles, St Ann, with two other friends.
On reaching Washington Boulevard, Davis said there was a massive road reconstruction project underway and a traffic backlog.
“They were widening the road. It was rocky and bumpy with potholes… and there was a whole heap of signs, like ‘Detour’, ‘Keep Left’, ‘No Speeding’, ‘Single-Lane Traffic Only’,” he reminisced.
“I don’t know how the inspiration come, but mi just seh: ‘Life is one big road with a lot of signs, so when you riding through the ruts, don’t you complicate your mind’.”
Those became the opening lines of Wake up And Live. Reaching what is now Mandela Highway (formerly Ferry), Davis said the inspiration continued and Marley added his lines.
“When we reached the vicinity of Ferry Police Station I saw an Andrew’s [antacid] billboard with the words: ‘Wake Up and Live’.
“Bob seh: ‘Sangie, si di chorus deh: Wake Up an’ Live,’ ” and that was included in the song,” he continued.
According to Davis, nothing was written on paper, and on arriving in Central Village in St Catherine the song was already completed.
“Bob seh: ‘Sangie, a one bad tune dat… Mi ah go sing it,’ ” said Davis.
Wake Up and Live appeared on Bob Marley and The Wailers’ 1979 album, Survival. Marley dedicated the album to freedom fighters in colonised Africa.
Davis and Marley’s writing partnership did not end there.
“I wrote three other songs for Bob… Babylon Feel This One, She Used to Call Me Daddy, and Jingling Keys which were demos which came out after his death. Jingling Keys, I sang on that one,” he says.
Davis is also credited as writer of Make Ends Meet by Dennis Brown; Starvation and Young One by Nadine Sutherland; Sophia George’s Girlie Girlie; and Tinga Stewart’s No Wey No Better Dan Yard.
Marley, who died in May, 1981 at age 36, would have celebrated his 78th birthday today.
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