Mindlovemisery's Menagerie

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I Shot The Sheriff

‘I Shot The Sheriff’ was written by Bob Marley and performed by and the Wailers, a reggae band formed by bassist Aston “Familyman” Barrett.  In the lyrics, the narrator kills a local sheriff after claiming that the sheriff tried shooting him.  He is falsely accused of shooting and killing the deputy sheriff also and this accusation he vehemently denies.  I like the song, but for some reason, I always felt that this is the dumbest song of all time.  Marley goes on and on about a murder that he didn’t commit, and he exonerates himself by admitting to another killing.  This is like if your girlfriend accuses you of cheating on her with Tiffany and you say, “What?  Don’t be ridiculous.  I cheated on you with Lisa, but I did not cheat on you with Tiffany.”  It is possible that Marley doesn’t understand that even if he didn’t kill the deputy, he can still be convicted for shooting the sheriff?

In the song, it says that he shot Sheriff John Brown down and I assume that means the he did kill the sheriff, although they are tracking him down for killing the deputy, so maybe the sheriff actually lived.  He indicates that shooting a sheriff is a capital offense, which is a criminal charge that is punishable by the death penalty.  Crimes punishable by death vary from state to state and these offenses may include first degree (premeditated) murder, murder with special circumstances, rape with additional bodily harm, and the federal crime of treason.  The death penalty in the United States is used almost exclusively for the crime of murder, but a capital offense does not have to include murder as destruction of property, having sex with a minor and even sodomy are in some places cases for capital offense.  I want you to figure this out, whether or not he killed the sheriff.

Several years after Marley died on May 11, 1981 from skin cancer, Jamaican filmmaker and actress Esther Anderson, who was once his girlfriend, claimed that she helped Marley to write this song.  She said of the line in which Marley sings about Sheriff John Brown hating him and always wanting to kill the seeds he planted was about Marley being against her using birth control pills during their relationship.  Anderson said that Marley believed using birth control was a sin and the doctor who prescribed those baby-killing pills became the sheriff, so Marley used the word sheriff in place of doctor.  Bob Marley said in a 1975 interview, “That’s not really a sheriff, it’s the elements of wickedness.  The elements of that song is people been judging you and you can’t stand it no more and you explode, you just explode.”  Marley never give Eric Clapton a direct answer to what this song means, instead he told him that some of the lyrics were true, but he refused to divulge which ones.  The song went on to become an anthem against corruption and injustice.  Eric Clapton recorded this in 1974.  His version was a #1 hit in the US, the only #1 of his career.  Clapton’s recording gave Marley a big boost, as it exposed him to a rock audience.

Most people interpret the meaning of “plant a seed” as a marijuana reference, but I will let you tell what you think this part of the song means.  Did Marley shoot the Deputy?  Why did the Sheriff hate Marley?  Was he tired of arresting Marley for growing marijuana plants?  Did the harassment that Marley suffered from the sheriff warrant shooting him?  Was the life of the deputy worth any less than the life of the sheriff?  Should a greater penalty exist for killing a law officer?  Will Marley get away or will the long arm of the law finally catch up to him?  Does the line, “what is to be must be” mean that certain things are predestined and bound to happen, so there is no use in regretting or resisting what one cannot control?  Does everything happen for a reason and do you believe in fate?  If that bucket goes into the well every day, how long will it take for the bottom to drop out?  What will happen on that fated day when the bottom drops out?  Was Bob Marley was a Rastafarian living in a politically charged country that had not yet accepted his views?  Did Bob Marley also shoot Jimmy Hoffa?

I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy

All around in my home town
They’re trying to track me down
They say they want to bring me in guilty
For the killing of a deputy
For the life of a deputy, but I say

I shot the sheriff, but I swear it was in self-defense
I shot the sheriff, and they say it is a capital offense

Sheriff John Brown always hated me
For what I don’t know
Every time that I plant a seed
He said, “Kill it before it grows”
He said, “Kill it before it grows”, I say

I shot the sheriff, but I swear it was in self-defense
I shot the sheriff, but I swear it was in self-defense

Freedom came my way one day
And I started out of town
All of a sudden I see sheriff John Brown
Aiming to shoot me down
So I shot, I shot him down, I say

I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy

Reflexes got the better of me
And what is to be must be
Every day the bucket goes to the well
But one day the bottom will drop out
Yes, one day the bottom will drop out, but I say

I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy, oh no
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy, oh no

The challenge today is to focus on this song and use it for inspiration in any form of creative expression (including but not limited to short stories, poems, lyrics, artwork, photography, (etc.).  Alternatively, if you are a musician, and you have played this song solo or in a group, it would be awesome if you could post a video to showcase your own work.  You could write about how you learned to play the chords or how you learned the lyrics.  There is no need to stick with this song, as if there is another Bob Marley or Eric Clapton song that you like to write about, that will be fine, especially since two weeks ago I only got one participant.

If the lyrics of this song inspires you to write about social injustice, or birth control, or growing weed then write about that.  If this song brings back any special memories for you, like how you explained to your significant other that you did not cheat on them, or if it holds a message, or contains a lesson, then go with that.  Try to explain whatever parts of the song that you desire and which lyrics are meaningful.  Let us know how the song makes you feel, whether it is good, or painful.  You could also share something special about the group, like if you ever saw them live in concert.  How much money do you think Bob Marley made from this song?  Basically what I am saying is that this music writing challenge is pretty much wide open and if you want to write about Cinco de Mayo, then go with that.  I need participants, but I am not going to grovel, as that is not a good look for me and the people in charge here at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie have promised not to give me the boot.

Dylan Hughes has next Friday May 10 with her First Line Friday and then I will magically appear again on Friday May 17 with another MM Music Challenge where we will discuss ‘The Mighty Quinn’.  When you are finished writing your post, create a ping back to this post, but since I have to approve all ping backs, you will have to wait for it to show up.  As long as you are being patient it will get here, but you can also place your link in the comments section below if you don’t like to wait.  This Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie MM Music challenge has a special feature called Mr. Linky, which I sort of have working now, but it only works if you click on that square object below the picture. This will allow you to instantly link your post after you click the square just Mr. Linky Picture which is supposed to be a Button and then follow the directions that are given. 

About newepicauthor

My About Me section is meant to provide my readers with an honest picture of myself that gives a little bit of background information on who I am and I will wrap this up with a catchy image. I am a story teller and I like to use my imagination. I am interested in many things, but a few of my favorites are watching the NFL and playing golf. I do not like onions and I always make sure that my food does not contain any. I had two wonderful parents, my dad Herb Adams was a television repairman and my mother Mary Adams was mostly a stay at home mom. They are both deceased now and I miss them. I am a retired Electrical Engineer specialized in control systems. I held many different positions because I worked mostly as a consultant. I did work as a Substitute Teacher, for a while, but the kids were awful. I am happiest when I am writing, as this gives my life has a purpose. Forming a sentence with meaningful words that articulate my inner feelings is an everyday quest for me. Every writer needs to tell their story, and all writers have their own style. All stories starts off with characters, who are able to entertain the reader. Creating realistic lovable characters is the best way to tell a story. If you are able to develop characters that become real to you, then you will know exactly what they will do say and do next and this lets your story progress to the completion. Writing changes everything and having the calling to create something new through the power of words is much more than just making marks on a page. Once written, a book can be used by many people to learn and be entertained. The act of writing can be compared to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as it contains an inherent fuzziness, because various people may derive different meanings from reading the same words. You can never know the true nature of written words and the best I can do is hope is that people will understand the meanings that I am trying to convey. There are no clear-cut laws on how to write and it is impossible for me to determine how my readers react to my books.

20 comments on “I Shot The Sheriff

  1. Paula Light
    May 3, 2019

    Fascinating! My mind is blank right now, but maybe something will wander in. Really like this song…


  2. newepicauthor
    May 3, 2019

    Reblogged this on A Unique Title For Me and commented:

    My first Reblog!


  3. msjadeli
    May 3, 2019

    OK Jim, it sounds like the field is pretty open for this prompt. Nice write-up. You put a lot of time and effort into it.


    • newepicauthor
      May 4, 2019

      It took a while to write this, but I enjoyed it. I am not getting any notifications when people make comments, so pleas don’t thing that I have been ignoring you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • msjadeli
        May 4, 2019

        OK. WP up to its ongoing tricks, I see.


  4. msjadeli
    May 3, 2019

    p.s. I will reblog this and see if it catches anyone’s eye.


  5. Pingback: I Shot The Sheriff – Tao Talk

  6. Pingback: #MLMM I Shot the Sheriff and Popeye – Tao Talk

  7. abbiejohnsontaylor
    May 4, 2019

    If this is based on the songwriter’s personal experience, unless there’s concrete evidence to support his claim that he didn’t shoot the sheriff or the deputy, I wouldn’t put it past him to do so. If he was growing marijuana, it’s a good bet he shot both officers in an attempt to avoid arrest. Some criminals will say and do anything to get away with what they do.


  8. Pingback: music fridays: I shot the sheriff, but I didn’t find the deputy, sorta, or “how my mind works” – Lorraine's frilly freudian slip

  9. Hello.This article was really interesting, particularly since I was looking for thoughts on this issue last week.


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This entry was posted on May 3, 2019 by in Uncategorized.
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