Wednesday, September 20, 2006

On the passing of Joseph Hill

I suppose it is appropriate that I am in Jamaica as I first learn of the stilling of one of the greatest voices that reggae ever produced, that of Culture lead singer and songwriter Joseph Hill, who passed away a month ago while on tour in Germany. The driving force behind, among other reggae, classics as the epochal 1977 hit Two Sevens Clash, See Them A Come, I'm Alone in the Wilderness and International Herb, Hill was, for my money, one of the greatest songwriters the genre ever produced, able to effortlessly meld biblical imagery with a clear message of hope, perseverance and resistance that resonates today as well if not better than it did during the group's heyday in the late 1970's. During a highly economically disadvantaged time in my life, I watched Culture play an outdoor concert in Miami in 1997, and the old master had lost none of his power or fire. I think I feel something of him lingering tonight in his island home. Jah-Jah see them a come, but I and I a conquerer.

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