“I Know” is one of Bob Marley’s most brilliant and prophetic songs and one that is always on my turntable.  Although it was released as a 12″ on Tuff Gong in 1981 shortly after Bob passed on, the peculiar sounding tune was actually recorded in September 1975 at Harry J’s studio.  Aside from the usual suspects, the track also features Earl “Chinna” Smith on guitar, Al Anderson on guitar, and Bernard “Touter” Harvey on keys.  Though the track was laid down in 1975, it has a soul/funk sound that is in no way characteristic of The Wailers sound at the time.  This is due to the fact that it was actually mixed at Tuff Gong in 1981 by Family Man and studio engineer Errol Brown.

I say the tune is prophetic because Bob is clearly writing about death.  It has been well-documented that Bob predicted his own death…  However, for a song about death, it is very hopeful and optimistic, something that very few songwriters could have pulled off.

Consider the first verse:

“When the race gets hard to run,
It means you just can’t take the pace.
When it’s time to have your fun,
You find the tears run on down through your face”

Bob is certainly writing about the difficulties we all face in this life.  Whether it be sickness, relationships, or internal or emotional pain, he acknowledges that suffering, just like birth and death, is part of the human condition.  However, in the next verse he remains positive as he realizes that there are many thins in life which we cannot control.  He trods forward with his head up, relying on his faith in both God and humankind to pull him through:

“Then you stop and think a little:
Are you the victim of the system?
Anyday now they gon’ let you down;
Remember, Natty will be there
To see you through.”

Even when faced with the final struggle in life, he still remains optimistic knowing that when he transitions through death “Jah will be waiting there.”

“(I) And ain’t it good to know (know) now:
Jah will be waiting there.
(I) Ain’t it doggone good to know (know) , you all;
Jah will be waiting there.
Wait in Summer, wait in Spring,
Wait in Autumn, Winter thing,”

Marley’s songwriting at its very best.