Redemption Song Chords

Published Categorized as Acoustic Guitar Songs, Chords

This seminal song by Bob Marley and the Wailers is oft considered one of his best, and speaks as one of his last statements before his untimely death from cancer in the early 1980s. Herein lies the key to unlocking this powerful and worldly song against authoritarianism and colonial powers. Here are the Redemption Song chords.

The Story of Redemption Song Chords

The Redemption Song Chords come from ‘Redemption Song’, a song by Jamaican singer Bob Marley, and the final track on Bob Marley and the Wailers’ twelfth album Uprising, produced by Chris Blackwell and released by Island Records. The song is oft considered one of Marley’s greatest works with some of the central lyrics and themes derived from a speech given by the Pan-Africanist orator Marcus Garvey titled ‘The Work That Has Been Done.’

At its heart, the song urges listeners to ‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,’ because ‘None but ourselves can free our minds.’ These lines were taken directly from a speech given by Marcus Garvey at Menelik Hall in Sydney, Nova Scotia, during October 1937 and published in his own Black Man magazine:

‘We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.’

Oft remarked is the fact that this was, for Marley, a real coming to terms with his own mortality, having contemporaneously been diagnosed with cancer. Likewise, Jim Beviglia analysed the song as being a ‘departure’ from his regular music, in light of this newfound mortality:

‘Marley was too much a force of nature to lose his personality just because he was in a new setting. The rhythmic ingenuity that marked his career can be heard in the little instrumental breakdown between verses. His vocal also drips with idiosyncratic power, from the way he hiccups his way through some of the lines to give them some extra flavor to his brilliant phrasing of the word “triumphantly.” Other songwriters might have crammed in a few other words just to fit the meter a bit more snugly, but Marley’s choice gives that word added meaning.’

Redemption Song Chords and Lyrics

Given that the entirety of the song can be played with just seven chords, it would be pertinent to explore the lyrics in more detail, though before we go on the chords will be detailed below, for your diligent study:

The Redemption Song Chords: Am – Am7 – C – D – Em – Em7 – G

The Actual Lyrics to Sing Along to

Old pirates, yes, they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the Almighty
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
‘Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it’s just a part of it
We’ve got to fulfill the book

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs
Redemption songs

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our mind
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy
‘Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say it’s just a part of it
We’ve got to fulfill the book

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever had
Redemption songs
All I ever had
Redemption songs
These songs of freedom
Songs of freedom

Final Tones

So, there you have it! Hopefully you are somewhat the wiser about the ins and outs of this powerful, world shaking song and how it functions musically! The key is in the feeling!

FAQs Redemption Song Chords

How do you strum Redemption song?

The key to being good at reggae lies more in musicality than in technique. So to make sure you really get the feel, it’s a good idea to just practice your strumming with all the strings muted. There are a few different styles of strumming in reggae. The most common one is when you do a single down strum on the second and fourth beat. This may be a little easier to conceptualize if you think of counting your beats “one AND two AND three AND…” If you count this way, the down strum would be on each “and.” This is probably the most common strumming pattern in the genre, and most easy reggae songs guitar players learn first use it.

What key is redemption song in?

The Redemption Song chords are rooted in G major, with various branches out to related chords in the key signature.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

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