Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff": Why This Song Sucks
[Editor's note: Why This Song Sucks determines why particular tracks blow using science. It appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday.]
Song: Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff"
History: "I Shot The Sheriff" was released in 1973. It's important for a number of reasons, but mostly because it made Warren G feel like it was be a good idea if he dressed like a wild west cowboy in 1997*.
*Probably the biggest mistake** Warren G ever made, barely nudging out the time he tried to play dice with those guys on 2-1 and Lewis.
**Incidentally, the time Will Smith dressed up like a wild west cowboy (in 1999's*** Wild Wild West) was the biggest mistake of his career too. His second: Seven Pounds, which, far as I can tell, was just an opportunity for him to make a sad face for two straight hours.
***He also had an album that year he accidentally called Willennium, possibly the worst album title from any major music star. Still, that was around the time in high school when I was wearing those clunky retro rockabilly creeper shoes, so I guess it was just a bad time for everyone.
If you weren't expecting a Pee-Wee's Playhouse reference, you haven't been reading this column enough.
Atmospherics: Jamaican-y, certainly.
Analysis: Bob Marley is definitely one of the greatest musicians of all-time; that seems inarguable. But, I mean, remember Denzel's Virtuosity (where he basically fights a video game with nice hair) or Nas' "Big Girl" (where he made everyone feel extra creeped out about sex) or Larry bird's mustache? The Gods are not without sin.
The biggest mistake here is obvious: for the entirety of the song Marley, clearly a forward thinker and cultural progressivist, lacks any sort of self-awareness. To wit, he talks the entire time about a murder he didn't commit, exonerating himself by admitting to another. It's like if your girlfriend accuses you of cheating on her with Tiffany and you're like, "What? Don't be ridiculous. I cheated on you with Lisa, but I did not cheat on you with Tiffany." Either way, your shit is getting hammered to the wall.
Bits from the song:
"I shot the sheriff."
Case closed. Thanks.
"But I did not shoot the deputy."
Okay, cool. Thanks. But you know it's not legal to shoot the sheriff, right?
"All around my hometown, they're trying to track me down."
DUDE. BECAUSE YOU SHOT A COP, BRO. WHY ARE YOU NOT UNDERSTANDING THIS?
"I shot the sheriff. And they say it was a capital offense."
I mean, I don't even know how else to say it, Bob. Murder ain't great.
"Sheriff John Brown always hated me. For what, I don't know."
Just a guess here, but maybe because you shot his brother, Sheriff Joe Brown.
"Every time I plant a seed, he said, 'Kill it before it grow.'"
Well, can you be a little more specific about the type of seed you were planting? Was it a marijuana seed? Because that's illegal too. Or maybe was it a seed for a tree that would eventually grow up and be a cop killer? YOU WERE PLANTING A COP KILLER TREE?! IS THAT WHERE ICE-T CAME FROM?! HOLY FUCK.
I'll be spending the rest of the afternoon collecting the pieces of my exploded brain, thank you.
(I) If you meet a girl named Lisa, you can be sure that she's ruined at least three relationships. Lisas are the worst.
(II) I really, really liked Virtuosity as a preteen.
(III) If Sheriff Joe Brown is related to Judge Joe Brown, then I completely understand why he shot him. I'm saying, Judge Joe Brown is THE WORST. He's the Cleveland Browns of judge show judges.
(IV) If there really is a tree that has an affinity for shooting at police officers, they should probably call it Ice-Tree.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.