What Andrei Tarkovsky’s Most Notorious Scene Tells Us About Time During the Pandemic: A Video Essay

In his films, Andrei Tarkovsky shows us things no oth­er auteur does: an unbro­ken eight-minute shot, for exam­ple, of a man slow­ly walk­ing a lit can­dle across an emp­ty pool, start­ing over again when­ev­er the flame goes out. One of the best-known (or at least most often men­tioned) sequences in the Russ­ian mas­ter’s oeu­vre, it comes from Nos­tal­ghia, a late pic­ture made dur­ing his final, exiled years in Italy. Some cite it as an exam­ple of all that’s wrong with Tarkovsky’s cin­e­ma; oth­ers as an exam­ple of all that’s right with it. But both the crit­i­cism and the praise are root­ed in the direc­tor’s height­ened sen­si­tiv­i­ty to and delib­er­ate use of time — a resource about which we’ve all come to feel dif­fer­ent­ly after a year of glob­al pan­dem­ic.

“Our sense of time dur­ing the pan­dem­ic was just as warped as our sense of space,” says Evan Puschak, bet­ter known as the Nerd­writer, in his new video essay above, a fol­low-up to his pre­vi­ous explo­ration of how lock­downs turned cities around the world into de Chiri­co paint­ings.

At first, “time felt simul­ta­ne­ous­ly slow and fast: hours dragged on at a snail’s pace, but weeks flew by. 2020 seemed end­less while it was hap­pen­ing, but in ret­ro­spect it feels brief, short­er than a nor­mal year.” But even under “nor­mal” con­di­tions, it holds true that “the more atten­tion we give to time, the slow­er it feels.” And when we think back to our past expe­ri­ences, “the more we can remem­ber in a giv­en peri­od expands our sense of its length.”

Watch­ing Nos­tal­ghia’s can­dle-in-the-pool scene, “you become aware of the odd encounter you’re hav­ing with time itself. You can feel the tex­ture of it, its pres­ence, as if time were not only a con­cept, but a sub­stance, stretch­ing out in front of you, expand­ing and con­tract­ing with every breath. It’s beyond inter­est, beyond bore­dom.” Unlike most film­mak­ers, Tarkovsky does­n’t manip­u­late time to keep us on a pre-laid emo­tion­al track, but to make us aware of our own move­ment through it. “It’ll be the same for the pan­dem­ic,” says Puschak. “There are some rhythms we’ll be eager to get back to, and oth­ers, now that we’ve expe­ri­enced their absence, we’ll be eager to leave behind.” Right now, we’d do well to ques­tion the new forms of nos­tal­gia that have beset us. Or we could use the time still on our hands to hold Tarkovsky ret­ro­spec­tives of our own.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Online: Watch the Films of Andrei Tarkovsky, Arguably the Most Respect­ed Film­mak­er of All Time

The Poet­ic Har­mo­ny of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Film­mak­ing: A Video Essay

“Auteur in Space”: A Video Essay on How Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris Tran­scends Sci­ence Fic­tion

Andrei Tarkovsky Answers the Essen­tial Ques­tions: What is Art & the Mean­ing of Life?

When Our World Became a de Chiri­co Paint­ing: How the Avant-Garde Painter Fore­saw the Emp­ty City Streets of 2020

Why Time Seems to Speed Up as We Get Old­er: What the Research Says

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Don’t Die Curious: An Animated Lyric Video

Chloe Jack­son was asked to cre­ate a lyric video for Tom Rosen­thal’s won­der­ful song, ‘Don’t Die Curi­ous’. And she deliv­ered. Enjoy…

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bob Marley’s Redemp­tion Song Final­ly Gets an Offi­cial Video: Watch the Ani­mat­ed Video Made Up of 2747 Draw­ings

Watch “The Stroke,” a Hand-Ani­mat­ed Music Video Where the Visu­als Came First & the Impro­vised Music Sec­ond

Watch Tom Waits For No One, the Pio­neer­ing Ani­mat­ed Music Video from 1979

Behold the Elaborate Writing Desks of 18th Century Aristocrats

Sit­ting or stand­ing before an esteemed writer’s desk can make us feel clos­er to their process. Vir­ginia Woolf’s desks — ply­wood boards she held on her lap and sloped stand­ing desks — show a kind of aus­tere rig­or in her pos­ture. “Through­out her life as a writer,” James Bar­rett points out, Woolf “paid atten­tion to the phys­i­cal act of writ­ing,” just as she paid atten­tion to the cre­ative act of walk­ing. The bare­ness of her imple­ments tells us a lot about her as an artist, but it tells us noth­ing about the state of writ­ing desk tech­nol­o­gy avail­able in her time.

20th cen­tu­ry mod­ernist Woolf pre­ferred the 16th-cen­tu­ry rus­tic sim­plic­i­ty of Monk’s house. Had she been an 18th cen­tu­ry aris­to­crat and a fol­low­er of fash­ion, she might have availed her­self of a desk designed by the Roent­gens, the “prin­ci­pal cab­i­net­mak­ers of the ancien régime,” notes the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art.

“From about 1742 to its clos­ing in the ear­ly 1800s, the Roent­gens’ inno­v­a­tive designs were com­bined with intrigu­ing mechan­i­cal devices to rev­o­lu­tion­ize tra­di­tion­al French and Eng­lish fur­ni­ture types.”

The Ger­man work­shop was found­ed by Abra­ham Roent­gen and con­tin­ued by his son David, whose cre­ations Goethe called “palaces in fairy­land” and who took first place in a fur­ni­ture mak­ing con­test with his entry: “a desk with cab­i­net, dec­o­rat­ed with chi­nois­erie fig­ures in superb mar­quetry and fea­tur­ing a clock with a car­il­lon (musi­cal mech­a­nism) and a hid­den clavi­chord.”

Roent­gen writ­ing desks were as func­tion­al as they were beau­ti­ful. But they were not made for just any­one. The Roent­gens made the Berlin Sec­re­tary Cab­i­net, for exam­ple — which you can see demon­strat­ed in the Met video at the top — for King Fred­er­ick William II of Prus­sia.

Oth­er Roent­gen desks may have been some­what less out­ward­ly osten­ta­tious, but their inner work­ings were just as inge­nious, as you can see in the roll­top desk fur­ther up and the mechan­i­cal desk above. Each of these mag­nif­i­cent cre­ations fea­tures hid­den draw­ers and com­part­ments, a main­stay of lux­u­ry desk design through­out the 1700s, as the Rijksmu­se­um video below demon­strates. Called “Neuwied fur­ni­ture,” this style was all the rage and any­one who was any­one, includ­ing, of course, Marie Antoinette, had the Roent­gens or their com­peti­tors make elab­o­rate cab­i­nets, desks, and bureaus that con­cealed com­plex inner work­ings like wood­en clocks.

“Roentgen’s per­fect­ly exe­cut­ed inven­tions became a sta­tus sym­bol for prince­ly inte­ri­ors all over Ger­many and Cen­tral Europe,” writes the Met. Whether their metic­u­lous­ly engi­neered writ­ing desks real­ly solved the prob­lem of office clut­ter or phys­i­cal­ly improved the expe­ri­ence of writ­ing in any way, how­ev­er, seems debat­able at best.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Who Wrote at Stand­ing Desks? Kierkegaard, Dick­ens and Ernest Hem­ing­way Too

How the Icon­ic Eames Lounge Chair Is Made, From Start to Fin­ish

How Women Got Dressed in the 14th & 18th Cen­turies: Watch the Very Painstak­ing Process Get Cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly Recre­at­ed

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Why Every World Map Is Wrong

The idea that the world maps are wrong — all of them — is hard­ly con­tro­ver­sial. It’s a math­e­mat­i­cal fact that turn­ing a globe (or an oblate spher­oid) into a two-dimen­sion­al object will result in unavoid­able dis­tor­tions. In the TED-Ed les­son above by Kay­la Wolf, you’ll learn a brief his­to­ry of world maps, start­ing all the way back with the Greek math­e­mati­cian Ptole­my, who “sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly mapped the Earth on a grid” in 150 AD in order to cre­ate maps that had a con­sis­tent scale. His grid sys­tem is still in use today — 180 lines of lat­i­tude and 360 lines of lon­gi­tude.

Most of the world maps we knew come from the Mer­ca­tor Pro­jec­tion, “a cylin­dri­cal map pro­jec­tion pre­sent­ed by the Flem­ish geo­g­ra­ph­er and car­tog­ra­ph­er Ger­ar­dus Mer­ca­tor in 1569,” writes Steven J. Fletch­er.

This map pro­jec­tion is prac­ti­cal for nau­ti­cal appli­ca­tions due to its abil­i­ty to rep­re­sent lines of con­stant course, known as rhumb lines, as straight seg­ments that con­serve the angles with the merid­i­ans…. the Mer­ca­tor pro­jec­tion dis­torts the size of objects as the lat­i­tude increas­es from the equa­tor to the poles, where the scale becomes infi­nite. 

Mercator’s inno­va­tion allowed for the ship­ping routes that cre­at­ed the mod­ern world (includ­ing those through the now-unblocked Suez Canal). But the pro­jec­tion has its prob­lems: 14 Green­lands, for exam­ple, could fit inside the con­ti­nent of Africa, says Wolf, but “you wouldn’t guess it from most maps of the world”  in which the two land mass­es are almost the same size.

“In 2010,” Adam Tay­lor notes at The Wash­ing­ton Post, “graph­ic artist Kai Krause made a map to illus­trate just how big the African con­ti­nent is. He found that he was able to fit the Unit­ed States, India and much of Europe inside the out­line of the African con­ti­nent.”

Geo­graph­i­cal mis­per­cep­tions “shape our under­stand­ing of the world,” Nick Rout­ley writes at Busi­ness Insid­er, “and in an increas­ing­ly inter­con­nect­ed and glob­al econ­o­my, this geo­graph­ic knowl­edge is more impor­tant than ever.” We are no longer pri­mar­i­ly using maps, that is to say, to chart, trade with, or con­quer for­mer­ly unknown regions of the world — from loca­tions assumed to be the nat­ur­al cen­ters of com­merce, cul­ture, or reli­gion.

Non-Mer­ca­tor world maps have, over the last few decades espe­cial­ly, attempt­ed to cor­rect the errors of cylin­dri­cal pro­jec­tion by unfold­ing the globe like an orange peel or a series of inter­lock­ing tri­an­gles, as in Buck­min­ster Fuller’s 1943 Dymax­ion Map. These have proved nau­ti­cal miles more accu­rate than pre­vi­ous ver­sions but they are use­less in nav­i­gat­ing the world.

Why cre­ate new, more accu­rate world maps? Because the Mer­ca­tor pro­jec­tion has giv­en the impres­sion of Euro-Amer­i­can geo­graph­i­cal suprema­cy for almost 500 years now, Wolf’s les­son argues, sim­ply by virtue of the loca­tion of its ori­gin and its orig­i­nal pur­pose. But it is now not only inac­cu­rate and out­dat­ed, it is also irrel­e­vant. Maps play a vital role in edu­ca­tion. The prac­ti­cal util­i­ty, how­ev­er, of flat world maps these days is pret­ty much beside the point, since GPS tech­nol­o­gy has most­ly elim­i­nat­ed the need for them alto­geth­er.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Buck­min­ster Fuller’s Map of the World: The Inno­va­tion that Rev­o­lu­tion­ized Map Design (1943)

Japan­ese Design­ers May Have Cre­at­ed the Most Accu­rate Map of Our World: See the Autha­Graph

Why Mak­ing Accu­rate World Maps Is Math­e­mat­i­cal­ly Impos­si­ble

Ancient Maps that Changed the World: See World Maps from Ancient Greece, Baby­lon, Rome, and the Islam­ic World

Down­load 67,000 His­toric Maps (in High Res­o­lu­tion) from the Won­der­ful David Rum­sey Map Col­lec­tion

200 Online Cer­tifi­cate & Micro­cre­den­tial Pro­grams from Lead­ing Uni­ver­si­ties & Com­pa­nies

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

The History of Tattoos Gets Beautifully Documented in a New Book by Legendary Tattoo Artist Henk Schiffmacher (1730–1970)

I always think tat­toos should com­mu­ni­cate. If you see tat­toos that don’t com­mu­ni­cate, they’re worth­less. —Henk Schiff­mach­er, tat­too artist

Tat­too­ing is an ancient art whose grip on the Amer­i­can main­stream, and that of oth­er West­ern cul­tures, is a com­par­a­tive­ly recent devel­op­ment.

Long before he took upor went undera tat­too nee­dle, leg­endary tat­too artist and self-described “very odd duck type of guy,” Henk Schiff­mach­er was a fledg­ling pho­tog­ra­ph­er and acci­den­tal col­lec­tor of tat­too lore.

Inspired by the immer­sive approach­es of Diane Arbus and jour­nal­ist Hunter S. Thomp­son, Schiff­mach­er, aka Han­ky Panky, attend­ed tat­too con­ven­tions, seek­ing out any sub­cul­ture where inked skin might reveal itself in the ear­ly 70s.

As he shared with fel­low tat­too­er Eric Per­fect in a char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly rol­lick­ing, pro­fane inter­view, his instincts became honed to the point where he “could smell” a tat­too con­cealed beneath cloth­ing:

The kind of tat­toos you used to see in those days, you do not see any­more, that stuff made in jail, in the Ger­man jails, like, you’d like see a guy who’d tat­tooed him­self as far as his right hand could reach and the whole right (side) would be empty…I always loved that stuff which was nev­er meant to be art which is straight from the heart.

When tat­too artists would write to him, request­ing prints of his pho­tos, he would save the let­ters, telling Hero’s Eric Good­fel­low:

I would get stuff from all over the world. The whole enve­lope would be dec­o­rat­ed, and the let­ter as well. I have let­ters from the Leu Fam­i­ly and they’re com­plete pieces of art, they’re hand paint­ed with all kinds of illus­tra­tions. Also peo­ple from jail would write let­ters, and they would take time to write in between the lines in a dif­fer­ent colour. So very, very unique let­ters.

Such cor­re­spon­dence formed the ear­li­est hold­ings in what is now one of the world’s biggest col­lec­tions of con­tem­po­rary and his­tor­i­cal tat­too ephemera.

Schiff­mach­er (now the author of the new Taschen book, TATTOO. 1730s-1970s) real­ized that tat­toos must be doc­u­ment­ed and pre­served by some­one with an open mind and vest­ed inter­est, before they accom­pa­nied their recip­i­ents to the grave. Many fam­i­lies were ashamed of their loved ones’ inter­est in skin art, and apt to destroy any evi­dence of it.

On the oth­er end of the spec­trum is a por­tion of a 19th-cen­tu­ry whaler’s arm, per­ma­nent­ly embla­zoned with Jesus and sweet­heart, pre­served in formalde­hyde-filled jar. Schiff­mach­er acquired that, too, along with vin­tage tools, busi­ness cards, pages and pages of flash art, and some tru­ly hair rais­ing DIY ink recipes for those jail­house stick and pokes. (He dis­cuss­es the whaler’s tat­toos in a 2014 TED Talk, below).

His col­lec­tion also expand­ed to his own skin, his first can­vas as a tat­too artist and proof of his ded­i­ca­tion to a com­mu­ni­ty that sees its share of tourists.

Schiffmacher’s com­mand of glob­al tat­too sig­nif­i­cance and his­to­ry informs his pref­er­ence for com­mu­nica­tive tat­toos, as opposed to obscure ice break­ers requir­ing expla­na­tion.

When he first start­ed con­ceiv­ing of him­self as an illus­trat­ed man, he imag­ined the delight any poten­tial grand­chil­dren would take in this graph­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of his life’s adven­tures“like Pip­pi Long­stock­ing’s father.”

While his Tat­too Muse­um in Ams­ter­dam is no more, his col­lec­tion is far from moth­balled. Ear­li­er this year, Taschen pub­lished TATTOO. 1730s-1970s. Henk Schiff­macher’s Pri­vate Col­lec­tion, a whop­ping 440-pager the irre­press­ible 69-year-old artist hefts with pride. You can pur­chase the book direct­ly via Ama­zon.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Meet Amer­i­ca & Britain’s First Female Tat­too Artists: Maud Wag­n­er (1877–1961) & Jessie Knight (1904–1994)

Why Tat­toos Are Per­ma­nent? New TED Ed Video Explains with Ani­ma­tion

Browse a Gallery of Kurt Von­negut Tat­toos, and See Why He’s the Big Goril­la of Lit­er­ary Tat­toos

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er, the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and the human alter ego of L’Ourse.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Hear J.S. Bach’s Music Performed on the Lautenwerck, Bach’s Favorite Lost Baroque Instrument

If you want to hear the music of Johann Sebas­t­ian Bach played on the instru­ments that actu­al­ly exist­ed dur­ing the stretch of the 17th and 18th cen­turies in which he lived, there are ensem­bles spe­cial­iz­ing in just that. But a full musi­cal revival isn’t quite as sim­ple as that: while there are baroque cel­los, oboes, and vio­las around, not every instru­ment that Bach knew, played, and com­posed for has sur­vived. Take the laut­en­wer­ck, a cat­e­go­ry of “gut-stringed instru­ments that resem­ble the harp­si­chord and imi­tate the del­i­cate soft tim­bre of the lute,” accord­ing to Baroquemusic.org. Of the “lute-harp­si­chord” crafts­men in 18th-cen­tu­ry Ger­many remem­bered by his­to­ry, one name stands out: Johann Nico­laus Bach.

A sec­ond cousin of Johann Sebas­t­ian, he “built sev­er­al types of lute-harp­si­chord. The basic type close­ly resem­bled a small wing-shaped, one-man­u­al harp­si­chord of the usu­al kind. It only had a sin­gle (gut-stringed) stop, but this sound­ed a pair of strings tuned an octave apart in the low­er third of the com­pass and in uni­son in the mid­dle third, to approx­i­mate as far as pos­si­ble the impres­sion giv­en by a lute. The instru­ment had no met­al strings at all.”

This gave the laut­en­wer­ck a dis­tinc­tive sound, quite unlike the harp­si­chord as we know it today. You can hear it — or rather, a recon­struct­ed exam­ple — played in the video above, a short per­for­mance of Bach’s Pre­lude, Fugue, and Alle­gro in E‑flat, BWV 998 by ear­ly-music spe­cial­ist Dong­sok Shin.

“If he owned two of them, they could­n’t have been that off the wall,” Shin says of the com­pos­er and his rela­tion­ship to this now lit­tle-known instru­ment in a recent NPR seg­ment. “The gut has a dif­fer­ent kind of ring. It’s not as bright. The laut­en­wer­ck can pull cer­tain heart­strings.” Just as the sound of each laut­en­wer­ck must have had its own dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics in Bach’s day, so does each attempt to recre­ate it today. “The small hand­ful of arti­sans cur­rent­ly mak­ing laut­en­werks are basi­cal­ly foren­sic musi­col­o­gists,” notes NPR cor­re­spon­dent Neda Ula­by, “recon­struct­ing instru­ments based on research and what they think laut­en­wer­cks prob­a­bly sound­ed like.” As for the one man we can be sure knew them inti­mate­ly enough to tell the dif­fer­ence, he’d be turn­ing 336 years old right about now.

via NPR

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear 10 of Bach’s Pieces Played on Orig­i­nal Baroque Instru­ments

Watch J.S. Bach’s “Air on the G String” Played on the Actu­al Instru­ments from His Time

Musi­cians Play Bach on the Octo­bass, the Gar­gan­tu­an String Instru­ment Invent­ed in 1850

How the Clavi­chord & Harp­si­chord Became the Mod­ern Piano: The Evo­lu­tion of Key­board Instru­ments, Explained

What Gui­tars Were Like 400 Years Ago: An Intro­duc­tion to the 9 String Baroque Gui­tar

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Watch the Classic Silent Film The Ten Commandments (1923) with a New Score by Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Steven Drozd (Flaming Lips) & Scott Amendola

For Passover 2021, the cul­ture non­prof­it Reboot has released “a mod­ern day score to Cecil B. Demille’s 1923 clas­sic silent film The Ten Com­mand­ments with Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Steven Drozd (Flam­ing Lips) and Scott Amen­dola.”

Reboot writes: “Berlin, Drozd and Amen­dola cre­at­ed a momen­tous new score for the Exo­dus tale, musi­cal­ly fol­low­ing Moses out of Egypt and into the Dessert where he receives the Ten Com­mand­ments. Cecil B. DeMille’s first attempt at telling the Ten Com­mand­ments sto­ry was in the Silent era year of 1923. The film [now in the pub­lic domain] is bro­ken up into two sto­ries: the sto­ry of the Jew­ish Exo­dus from Egypt and a thin­ly relat­ed ‘present day’ melo­dra­ma.”

Enjoy it all above.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

via Boing­Bo­ing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch the Ger­man Expres­sion­ist Film, The Golem, with a Sound­track by The Pix­ies’ Black Fran­cis

Pub­lic Domain Day Is Final­ly Here!: Copy­right­ed Works Have Entered the Pub­lic Domain Today for the First Time in 21 Years

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke Per­forms Songs from His New Sound­track for the Hor­ror Film, Sus­piria

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How Bob Marley Came to Make Exodus, His Transcendent Album, After Surviving an Assassination Attempt in 1976

“The peo­ple who are try­ing to make this world worse aren’t tak­ing a day off. How can I?,” said Bob Mar­ley after a 1976 assas­si­na­tion attempt at his home in Jamaica in which Mar­ley, his wife Rita, man­ag­er Don Tay­lor, and employ­ee Louis Grif­fiths were all shot and, incred­i­bly, all sur­vived. Which peo­ple, exact­ly, did he mean? Was it Edward Seaga’s Jamaican Labour Par­ty, whose hired gun­men sup­pos­ed­ly car­ried out the attack? Was it, as some even con­spir­a­to­ri­al­ly alleged, Michael Man­ley’s People’s Nation­al Par­ty, attempt­ing to turn Mar­ley into a mar­tyr?

Mar­ley had, despite his efforts to the con­trary, been close­ly iden­ti­fied with the PNP, and his per­for­mance at the Smile Jamaica Con­cert, sched­uled for two days lat­er, was wide­ly seen as an endorse­ment of Manley’s pol­i­tics. When he made his now-famous­ly defi­ant state­ment from Island Records’ chief Chris Blackwell’s heav­i­ly guard­ed home, he had just decid­ed to play the concert–this despite the con­tin­ued risk of being gunned down in front of 80,000 peo­ple by the still-at-large killers, or some­one else paid by the CIA, whom Tay­lor and Mar­ley biog­ra­ph­er Tim­o­thy White claim were ulti­mate­ly behind the attack.

Mar­ley doesn’t just show up at the con­cert, he “gives the per­for­mance of his life­time,” notes a brief his­to­ry of the event, and “clos­es the show by lift­ing his shirt, expos­ing his ban­daged bul­let wounds to the crowd.” Erro­neous­ly report­ed dead in the press after the shoot­ing, Mar­ley emerged Lazarus-like, a Rasta­far­i­an folk-hero. Then he left Jamaica to make his career state­ment, Exo­dus, in Lon­don — as much a fusion of his right­eous polit­i­cal fury, reli­gious devo­tion, erot­ic cel­e­bra­tion, and peace, love & uni­ty vibes as it is a fusion of blues, rock, soul, funk, and even punk.

It’s a very dif­fer­ent album than what had come before in 1976’s Ras­ta­man Vibra­tions, which was an album of “hard, direct pol­i­tics” and right­eous, “macho” anger, wrote Vivien Gold­man, “with sur­pris­ing specifics like ‘Ras­ta don’t work for no C.I.A.’” The apoth­e­o­sis that was 1977’s Exo­dus begins, how­ev­er, not with Mar­ley’s pre­vi­ous album but with the Smile Jamaica con­cert. What was meant to be a brief, one-song, non-aligned appear­ance became after the shoot­ing “a tran­scen­den­tal 90-minute set for a coun­try being torn apart by inter­nal strife and exter­nal med­dling,” says Noah Lefevre in the Poly­phon­ic video his­to­ry at the top. “It was the last show Bob Mar­ley would play in Jamaica for more than a year.”

See the full Smile Jamaica con­cert above and learn in the Poly­phon­ic video how “six months to the day” lat­er, on June 3, 1977, Mar­ley left on his own exo­dus and came to record and release what Time mag­a­zine named the “album of the cen­tu­ry” — the record that would “trans­form him from a nation­al icon to a glob­al prophet.” On Exo­dus, he achieves a syn­the­sis of glob­al sounds in a defin­ing cre­ative state­ment of his major themes. Mar­ley was “real­ly try­ing to give the African Dias­po­ra a sense of its strength and… uni­ty,” Gold­man told NPR on the album’s 30th anniver­sary, while at the same time, “real­ly embrac­ing, you know, white peo­ple, to an extent; doing his best to make a mul­ti­cul­tur­al world work.”

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Bob Marley’s Redemp­tion Song Final­ly Gets an Offi­cial Video: Watch the Ani­mat­ed Video Made Up of 2747 Draw­ings

Watch a Young Bob Mar­ley and The Wail­ers Per­form Live in Eng­land (1973): For His 70th Birth­day Today

30 Fans Joy­ous­ly Sing the Entire­ty of Bob Marley’s Leg­end Album in Uni­son

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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