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Story of The Song:Songs of lament from Bob

Published:Sunday | May 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

Thirty-one years after Bob Marley's death, the documentary Marley premiered at Emancipation Park, New Kingston, in April. An intensely personal look at Marley's life, one of the extremely emotional periods of the film occurred when the magnitude of Marley's illness became clear.

He collapsed while jogging in Central Park, New York, on September 21, 1980, and played his final concert at the Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 23, 1980. The recording of that performance was released in early 2011 under the title Live Forever.

The track listing names a number of well-known Marley and the Wailers songs, among them Natural Mystic, The Heathen, Crazy Baldhead, Zion Train, No Woman No Cry and Redemption Song.

However, in the documentary, it was stated that Marley did the sound check for the concert with one song for hours on end, a song that was not played during the concert - I'm Hurting Inside.

The lyrics were sadly apt for the occasion, as Marley found out the extent of his terminal illness at the point where he seemed to be making inroads on the black market in the United States.

The song speaks to fleeting joy in younger years (When I was just a little child/Happiness was there awhile/Then from me, yeah, it slipped one day/Happiness, come back, I say/'Cause if you don't come, I've got to go looking for happiness").

Then, on the chorus Marley sings:

"I'm hurting inside

Oh, hear my cry, hear my cry, yeah"

Then, near the end of the song, Marley sings of the emotional pain, but it was also applicable to the physical pain he would have been feeling from the disease that was eating away at his body from within.

"Feel the pain, feel the pain

I'm hurting inside

I'm hurting inside"

Two songs from that final concert have been used for moments associated with Marley's death. One is Natural Mystic, which forms the soundtrack for a well-known recording of Marley's funeral procession from the National Arena in Kingston to Nine Mile, St Ann. With its distinctive fade-in introduction, Natural Mystic is the opening song on the 1977 Exodus album, its lyrics striking, yet open to multiple interpretations.