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September 04, 2012

The Wailers - No Woman, No Cry [Demo] (1973)

In 1973, The Wailers were gathering increasingly larger crowds during a tour across England. The main members, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer, received no money for their “promotional” tour and were soon expected to do the same in the seedy nightclubs of the United States. Bunny refused. Hoping his friends would join him in his refusal, he was disappointed to find that Tosh and Marley were going to carry on with the group’s tutor, Joe Higgs, in his place. Shortly after the tour ended, Tosh parted ways with the group as well. He felt Chris Blackwell, the group’s producer, was ripping them off. He also felt that after twelve years of primarily being a backing vocalist, he wasn’t able to materialize the lyrics, music, and emotion that had built up inside of him. Bob Marley continued the group as Bob Marley & The Wailers with his new backing vocalists, The I-Threes.

The original version of this song was released on the 1974 album, Natty Dread. Although it was the first record to be released without Tosh and Bunny, this demo version of this particular song still features Peter Tosh on piano. The female backing vocalists are unknown. Written by Bob Marley, the writing credits were officially given to Vincent Ford, a soup kitchen owner in the Kingston ghetto known as Trenchtown. Marley gave rights to Ford so that he could collect the song’s royalties and continue to feed the starving people in Kingston, Jamaica.

The title is often misinterpreted as meaning “no woman equals no crying;” but, in actuality, the singer is telling a woman, “no, woman, don’t cry”. The confusion arises from the Jamaican slang for “don’t,” pronounced “nuh”. So when the title was being listed, “no, woman, nuh cry,” it was confusingly written as “No Woman, No Cry”.

album art

The Wailers - No Woman, No Cry [Demo] (1973)

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Lyrics:

No, woman, no cry
No, woman, no cry
No, woman, no cry
No, woman, no cry

‘cause, ‘cause
‘cause I remember when we used to sit
In a government yard in Trenchtown
Oba- observing the hypocrites
Yeah
Mingle with the good people we meet
Yeah
Good friends we have, oh, good friends we have lost
Along the way
(Yeah) Yeah
In this great future, you can’t forget your past
So dry your tears, I say
Yeah

No, woman, no cry
No, woman, no cry
Hey, yeah
A’little darlin’, don’t shed no tears
No, woman, no cry

Hey, said, said
Said I remember when we used to sit
In the government yard in Trenchtown
Yeah
And then Georgie would make the fire lights
I say, a’log wood burnin' through the night
Yeah
Then we would cook corn meal porridge
I say, of which I'll share with you
Yeah
My feet is my only carriage
And so I've got to push on through
But while I'm gone

Everything's gonna be alright
Everything's gonna be alright
Everything's gonna be alright
Everything's gonna be alright
Everything's gonna be alright
Everything's gonna be alright
Everything's gonna be alright
Everything's gonna be alright

So, no, woman, no cry
No, woman, no cry
I say, oh little- oh little darlin’, don't shed no tears
No, woman, no cry
Hey

No, woman- no, woman- no, woman, no cry
No, woman, no cry
One more time, I’ve got to say
Oh, little- little darling, please don’t shed no tears
No, woman, no cry

(Hey, little sister) No, woman
It’s his voice
No, woman, no cry
(No, woman, no cry)

I promise you
(Hey, little sister)
Everything’s gonna be alright
(Don’t shed no tears)
Everything’s gonna be alright
Everything’s gonna be alright
(No, woman, no cry)
Everything’s gonna be alright
Everything’s gonna be alright
Everything’s gonna be alright
Everything’s gonna be alright, hey
(Everything’s) gonna be alright
Everything’s gonna be alright
Everything’s gonna be alright
(Everything’s…)

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