One thing that’s helped Bob Marley’s music stay relevant for nearly five decades is the fact that his songs are so catchy. You don’t have to be familiar with Rastafarian ideology to enjoy even his explicitly religious/political songs. As one would expect from someone who studied ’60s American soul very closely and specifically the music of Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions, Marley understood the value of great melodies and simple choruses.
The chorus of “Get Up, Stand Up” is simple and powerful. Whether you’re cheering a sports team or getting ready to participate in a political protest, “stand up for your rights” and “don’t give up the fight” constitute a rallying cry that will get the listener amped.
The other really great thing about “Get Up, Stand Up” has nothing to do with Bob Marley. Before The Wailers were Marley’s backing band, they were a band that featured Bob Marley as merely one of their members. “Get Up” is juiced by the vocals of the mighty Peter Tosh, who delivers the knockout punch with the song’s final verse, including the immortal line “you can fool some people some times/but you can’t fool all the people all of the time.” Soon after the Wailers began to achieve stardom, Tosh realized that there was no way he was going to play second fiddle in the band and broke North for a solo career. This turned out to not be a bad decision for either party, but I would’ve loved to have heard more music made by Marley and Tosh as a unit before both of their untimely passings.