“I shot the Sheriff” is as pertinent in 2020 as it was in 1973 as soon as Bob Marley wrote it. While reggae was well-known in the at an early stage 70s (Johnny Nash’s “I have the right to See clearly Now” to be released in 1972), it took Eric Clapton‘s variation released one year later to placed this tune on the map, or more accurately, ~ above the radio. No one can problem that both males are legends and also this song was for this reason strongly composed that it operated as an urban blues/rock cover, and in its original reggae form. What us can dispute is “Who did it better?”

“I shoot The Sheriff” is perhaps Bob Marley’s most famed song and also was originally recorded for the Wailers‘ 1973 album Burnin’. Sadly, it was the last single Marley released v Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, both left to walk solo. The track tells the story the a male who shooting a sheriff that is harassing him however is mistakenly accused of killing the deputy. Marley claimed that few of it is true, however would no say what parts. He went on to say, “I desire to to speak ‘I shooting the police’ yet the federal government would have made a fuss so I said ‘I shot the sheriff’ instead… however it’s the very same idea: justice.”

Eric Clapton demands no introduction, that was part of the seminal bands Cream, remote Faith, The Yardbirds, and Derek & The Dominos. He also had a really successful solo career, but his just #1 on the hot 100, either through a tape or solo, was his cover of “I shot The Sheriff.” He come close in 1992 v “Tears In Heaven,” which reached #2. Clapton retained the basic reggae beat native Marley’s original however made it an ext of a well-produced rock song, with prominent organ and also guitar.

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Seth Warden, Warden and also Co.

I found Bob Marley (thank god…I typical Jah) since of the Eric Clapton cover. That wild the a blues/rock artist have the right to adapt a reggae vocal for this reason well and also make it their own. Ns love Clapton’s version so much and also am thankful that it resulted in me to Marley’s catalog, yet once that did, ns was important hooked ~ above the Jamaican sound. So much so, that I composed my High School senior term file on Bob Marley. Both versions space fantastic, but if I had to chose, and I must for the sake of this article, it would be “Robert Nesta Marley’s” version. 

Dave Geoghegan, Dr. Jah and the Love Prophets

Do you prefer it raw? Or Polished? That’s the big question because that me here. It’s quite clear the Bob is talking around an suffer that was yes, really happening to him and also his people at the time. Fighting back, standing up for her beliefs. A raw emotional journey with the eyes of one oppressed man, this to be life or death. If ns can’t to escape Sherrif john Brown, he’s gonna kill me. Bob to be a master of taking genuine people’s feelings and lives and translating that into song. Bob’s a storyteller who can sing.

Eric’s a music genius. He took the blueprint because that the song and created a transcendent performance. His capability to combine his rock sound and Bob’s lyrics and rhythm renders this reduced special. There room no turbulent edges, and everything seems perfect. Eric brings to the music what Bob lugged to the feeling.

Which one’s better, for me, it’s Bob. The newness the the sound and also the capability to take it a new and unknown music type ( reggae) and also develop the from a particle is unique. But, what ns really wish we had was Eric in Bob’s band for the night. Man, that would certainly be something come see. One Love!

Andy Gregory, WEXT

The very first time ns heard this tune was the variation by Eric Clapton, and I’m certain it was on am radio. Ns hadn’t quite discovered the wonders of the FM dial together I did throughout my teenager years. Really, it to be the funky groove that caught my ear. “Shot the sheriff?” I had no idea what that meant, except that appeared a little bit dangerous come do.

I didn’t become aware of Marley’s initial until the 1980’s, where a male in our college dorm was a huge reggae and also dub fan, together I hazily remember. I could far better appreciate the song and also lyrics, however it didn’t to win me in rather the same way.

I have actually to provide the nod come Clapton here, if only due to the fact that his version was the one i knew best.

Chris Shaw, Adirondack individual Singer

Actually, i’ve heard as numerous covers of “I shooting the Sheriff” as the following guy, (tons an ext if you count the variety of guys in ~ the NAMM present in Los Angeles who were constantly play it at every manufacturer’s booth.) yet for my money, you can not beat the Marley and theWailers version. Renders you feel choose you’re top top the street in Kingston through jerk chicken in one hand and also a Red stripe in the other…

Lucas Garrett, Singer-Songwriter

So, I’d choose to briefly weigh in top top something prior to giving my think on each version of the song. Determining which tune is better is as spatu a job as many things are in music. Maybe it have to be framed together which version is many relevant or impactful upon the arts form. That being said, I might pull in ~ that particular thread because that ages and also end up talking myself in circles. On come the song.

Before we think about each artist, stop evaluate the lyrics; a component of the composition i feel is oft overlooked. One only requirements to review the words to start knowledge what Marley to be singing about at the moment he created the tune. The an ext things change, the much more they sadly continue to be the same. This song, in ~ its crux, is around the be oppressive that people of color – in this case, black world – face at the hands of legislation enforcement. The rhythms in Marley’s version, specifically the interplay in between the bass and percussion room such a affluent sound, steeped greatly in reggae and Jamaican traditions, and also in my see also aid drive the definition of this track home. Looking in ~ Clapton’s version, we start to see something else going; something that numerous musicians are guilty of throughout the course of your career. This ‘something’ to which ns refer is social appropriation.

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During the seventies, Clapton graced us v what many speak to his “reggae” period, in which the penned various other songs v a similar vibe to that which we heard in his variation of I shot the Sheriff. To me, Clapton took all the raw, and also visceral aspects that made Marley’s version an excellent and memorable, and also then proceeded to sand those parts means down. Whatever is perfectly gradually in Clapton’s version, and also all components are dripping with technological proficiency. But, where’s the feel? where the emotion that hits you ideal in the gut like what is feel in Marley’s version? among the most an effective lines in Marley’s version is when he cries out, pleading and acknowledging that “if i am guilty, I should pay.” that line simply doesn’t exist in Clapton’s version. If you want a tune with emotion, meaning and impact, you have to go v Marley’s version. If you’re in search of technical proficiency, go with Clapton. No one have the right to doubt his ability to play, I just would be remiss if i don’t say i doubt his sincerity behind his version.