‘Glee’ Uses Bob Marley Classic To Teach Tolerance

Highlight of anti-bullying episode is Artie and Puck's performance of 'One Love/ People Get Ready.'

There’s certainly been no shortage of show-stopping numbers on the second season of “Glee” thus far. From the “Time Warp” finale in the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” episode to Amber Riley’s take on Simon and Garfunkel’s goose-bump inducing “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” gleeks have gotten their fill of the big numbers that made the show such a hit in the first place. But that’s not to say there hasn’t been a place for more low-key numbers this season too.
Stripped-down and acoustic covers of ditties like Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat’s “Lucky” have proven that less can be more.

Take, for instance, Tuesday night’s rendition of Bob Marley’s classic “One Love/ People Get Ready,” sung by Artie (the criminally underrated Kevin McHale) and Puck (Mark Salling, who recently released his debut solo album, Pipe Dreams). The two busk at their school and not only bring in the dollars, but also drive home the theme of last night’s anti-bullying, pro-tolerance episode when they sing the everlasting words, “Let’s get together and feel all right/ I’m pleading to mankind/ One love.”

The song was originally released as “One Love” by Bob Marley’s band the Wailers on their 1965 album The Wailing Wailers. It took on a new incarnation as “One Love/ People Get Ready” on the 1977 record Exodus (which was named “The Best Album of the Century” by Time magazine) when Marley added lines from the Impressions track “People Get Ready” by Curtis Mayfield. The song is also on the essential Bob Marley greatest-hits compilation Legend, which is one of the best-selling albums of all time, with more than 20 million sold in the U.S. alone.

At just under three minutes, the reggae classic, which opens with that unmistakable steel drum, has been a source of inspiration for 45 years.

It was dubbed “The Song of the Millennium” by the BBC in 1999, and a new version of the song, sung by Bob’s son Ziggy Marley, alongside the Gipsy Kings and the Boys’ Choir of Harlem, was used as the BBC’s official anthem to ring in 2000.

In 1984, a posthumous music video was made in honor of the song and Marley himself. The clip features footage of Marley as well as an appearance by Paul McCartney singing along to the track. Fifteen years later, in honor of what would have been Marley’s 64th birthday, “the cross-cultural global musical movement” Playing for Change made their own version of the song, featuring artists such as Keb’ Mo’.

But even before “Glee” tackled the tune, the song had made its way into mainstream pop culture before, even at the multiplex. The song inspires Owen Wilson to name his dog Marley after he and his new pup hear “One Love/ People Get Ready” in the 2008 family dramedy “Marley & Me,” based on the book by John Grogan. In the 2010 animated hit “Shrek Forever After,” Antonio Banderas’ character, Puss in Boots, sings his own version.

While there’s no denying the song’s powerful message, many have wondered if the song’s darker content, with lines about Armageddon and those who disliked Marley, has been lost on some or used in the wrong context. The upbeat tune, with its bouncy melodies and sing-along chorus, has been used in travel advertisements for Marley’s native Jamaica for years.

Nevertheless, “One Love” (which was named the best Bob Marley song ever by AOL’s Radio Blog) has become not only a symbol of the country but of Marley himself. On the singer’s website, Andrea Davis, the founder of International Reggae Day, puts it best, saying, ” ‘One Love’ is the recipe for humanity’s wellness … a very empowering and timeless message to the world delivered with masterfully simple imagery. … Beyond the holy Armageddon context, the song is a powerful affirmation for everyone to get together and feel all right; it suggests we have the power to control the outcome.”