Check In w/ the Blue Mirror


Do You Remember?

Through thickest glooms look back, immortal shade,
On that that confusion which thy death has made.

-- Phillis Wheatley, "On the Death of Dr. Samuel Marshall 1771"

When we say the dubscience is a conjuring way, we're telling neither secrets nor lies. Dub fulfills the wish of turning making and remaking into one and the same action. It's a way to get more out of nothing, the old surplus value sleight of hand. It's a way of tying together the loose ends, looping the full circle of the root and the branch, the unnaground and the business, the remembered and the forgotten, the dead and the living.

In this way we find ourselves possessed by Burning Spear's albums Marcus Garvey and Garvey's Ghost. They are simple albums based on each based on a simple concept: the first is a set of 10 songs that invoke the importance of Marcus Garvey to the young Jamaican; the second, a song for song echo of the first. The first is an assembly of a-side versions, the second, its b-side twin.* The back and forth casts the spell of the most powerful purpose: bring back the dead, forgotten leader, who, in new form, might lead us across the water where we can see a new land, a new way of life.

From the first track, it's a simple spell. It takes the form of a lesson (the subject is history) that comes with twin prospects: the threat of further struggle, even harm, on the one hand, and the promise of relief, even redemption on the other. "Marcus Garvey" is recast into "The Ghost." The a-side begins with the powerful incantation, "Marcus Garvey's words come to pass" in the face of hunger and deprivation, "Can't get no food to eat. Can't get no money to spend," and makes a private offering to the listener, "Come little one, oh let me do what I can for you, and you alone." The b-side is groove alone, fading horns and dubbed piano repeating in the distance against a churning rhythm section, ghostly give and take that does all it can to enact the album's first important proposition: "He who knows the right thing/and do it not/shall be spanked with many stripes," which turns into the plea, "Do right. Do right. Do right Do right. Do right." The a-side is the conjure word; the b-side the the conjure word becomes conjured deed. Now gone in the first breath, it is true to say that "Marcus Garvey's words come to pass" in the form of a ghostly echo.

Together, the twin albums do this gesture ten times over. "Slavery Days," turns to "I and I Survive." "Jordan River" turns to "Dread River." "Resting Place" turns to "Reggaelation." Taken together they create a simple back and forth, a call and response that creates unity among those who have been separated.  I and I survive?  Yes.  Even with the turn from the first title to the second, the next spell is cast, the next lesson is learned.  It is a way that makes future from the past, and makes new dreams out of old dreams.  And in this way, the dead come back to life.

Here's a clip of sacred bullets for the double barrel, kingz & queenz.  Humble yourself, my little ones.  Humble yourself.  Wa da da.
* See:



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