Bob Marley's Best Love Songs

Bob Marley is generally best remembered for his songs about social justice and revolution, but his collection of love songs are equally worth remembering. From light and airy rocksteady tunes about teen romance to rich, intense reggae ballads about mature love, these songs are the very best of the best from Bob Marley's more romantic side.

"Is This Love?"

Is This Love
© Island Records

I wanna love you and treat you right;
I wanna love you every day and every night...

"Is This Love" is one of those songs that makes you realize that, despite it all, pretty much everyone in the world goes through the same thing when they're falling in love for the first time - a combination of slightly delusional "forever" fantasies and a total uncertainty as to whether or not this is the real thing. First released on Bob Marley's 1978 album ​Kaya, "Is This Love" also appears on the popular Legend compilation.

"Stir it Up"

I'll push the wood, then I'll blaze your fire;
Then I'll satisfy your heart's desire...

In the grand tradition of traditional Caribbean music, "Stir it Up" is one long double entendre. Meaning, if you'd like to believe that the song is about stoking a fire, cooking a meal, and serving a beverage to go along, you certainly may believe that. My mind is slightly dirtier than that, I'm sorry to say. In any case, the euphemism that Bob Marley presents here is not a super-naughty one, it actually comes across as very romantic. "Stir it Up" was originally written for American reggae star Johnny Nash, but was recorded by The Wailers as a single in 1967, and was re-recorded in the mid-'70s and released on ​Burnin'.

"Turn Your Lights Down Low"

Turn your lights down low and pull your window curtains;
Oh, let Jah moon come shining in - into our life again...

This sultry, slow song from Bob Marley's seminal 1977 album Exodus is a song about rekindling lost love. "Turn Your Lights Down Low" is perhaps Marley's sexiest song, with smooth synthesizers and bluesy guitar riffs that would feel right at home on a Marvin Gaye album.

"Soul Shakedown Party"

The way you love me, it's all right,
When you put your lovin' arms around me and you hold me tight...

This peppy song comes from the Wailers' ska-into-reggae transition period when their sound still bore a bit of street grit (it's from their 1971 LP The Best of the Wailers, which is oddly enough not a compilation album), and it's eminently danceable. This is a rare song in that it's both romantic and super-upbeat.

"Could You Be Loved?"

Love would never leave us alone,
Against the darkness there must come out the light.

"Could You Be Loved" is less about romantic love, and more about the idea that in order to find love, both of the platonic and romantic kinds, one must be able to receive it. That is​ if you can't love yourself and your "brotherman," how can you expect to get love in return? It's a lofty concept, but one that's presented really beautifully here. "Could You Be Loved" appeared on Uprising, which was the last studio album that Bob Marley and the Wailers released before Marley's death in 1981.

"Try Me"

When the hurt is strong and everything you do is wrong;
You need someone to comfort you;
Well, listen baby, I'll come first to you, so try me...

"Try Me" is a funky, ska-tinged song about not-quite-yet-requited love, where Marley encourages the object of his affection to essentially drop the zero and get with the hero, as it were. This song is one of Bob Marley's best vocal showcases... the simple but soulful melody really lets his tenor ring. "Try Me" first appeared on Soul Rebels, the Wailers' first international release.

"Baby, We've Got a Date (Rock it Baby)"

Oh, we walk through the pale moonlight,
With our love that is right...

Though Bob Marley was definitely a full-grown man by the time this song was released on 1973's Catch a Fire, this tune has a sweet teenage "first love" vibe to it... the musical equivalent of butterflies in your stomach, if you will. I confess that I always thought it was a funny juxtaposition for this song to be on ​Catch a Fire, which is one of the Wailers' most political albums, but its inclusion here is a nice little metaphor for the fact that even while wars rage and injustice remains in the world, people still fall in love.

"Mellow Mood"

Open up your heart.
Let love come running in, darlin',
Love, sweet love, darlin'.

"Mellow Mood" is a straight-up love song. There's no mistaking it - the lyrics are unabashedly romantic and adoring, and the laid-back music is pretty sultry, too. It's one of those songs that can always cheer me up, no matter what mood I'm in - though, in the interest of full disclosure, I feel the same way about Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," so... Anyhow, "Mellow Mood" was first released in Jamaica as a single in 1967, and appears on several Bob Marley compilation CDs.

"Don't Rock My Boat (Satisfy My Soul)"

You satisfy my soul, satisfy my soul;
Every little action, there is a reaction...

Bob Marley actually recorded this song twice, once as "Don't Rock My Boat," which was released on Soul Revolution, which was only released in Jamaica, and then he recorded it again for Kaya in 1978 as "Satisfy My Soul." The first version is a little rawer and funkier, the second is smoother and more R&B-influenced... both are great, though the second version is better-known. It's a simple, beautiful song about lovers who have moved past the turbulent phase in their relationship and settled comfortably into things.

"No Woman, No Cry"

Good friends we have, oh, good friends we've lost along the way.
In this great future, you can't forget your past, so dry your tears, I say.

"No Woman, No Cry" is one of Bob Marley's most famous songs and one of his most romantic. It's a mature love story, a story of two people who've suffered and achieved fortune together. "No Woman, No Cry" was first released on 1974's Natty Dread, but the version from 1975's Live! the album is the best-known. Interestingly, though experts agree that Marley wrote the song, the songwriter's credit is given to a man named Vincent Ford, who ran a soup kitchen in the ghetto of Trenchtown. All royalties from the song, therefore, essentially paid for the operation of the soup kitchen. That's love, too.