I have written about songs both simple and complex here at my humble 1PerfectSong.com blog. There is no magic formula to what makes a song truly great. Greatness and perfection is not reserved only for those songs that enable an artist to showcase their dexterity on a guitar or drum kit, nor is it only for those songs whose message is so simple and clear that they can be played or interpreted by almost anyone.
Greatness is subjective. Perfection is attainable. There are no hard and fast rules, and even simplest of songs can ascend to levels the most complex rock opera can only hope to reach. “Three Little Birds” by reggae music grandfather and architect Bob Marley is a perfect example of how a simple, short message can reach beyond borders and generations to create as simple message, accessible to everyone and understood by all. The song is only about waking up, appreciating the day, and being optimistic that good things will come. The first thing we need to know as the sun breaks into our window, as we first hear the sounds of the world around us, is that everything is going to be okay.
We hear gentle steel drums tap out a percussive introduction, followed by an organ carrying the melody. Marley talks to us.
“Don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing, gonna be alright
Singing don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing, gonna be alright.”
There is no person wealthy or poor, young or old, healthy or sick who would not welcome such a message with every fiber of their being. We just want to know that everything will work out. Everything will be okay.
“Rise up this morning
Smiled with the rising sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstop
Singing sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying, this is my message to you.”
And that is all. That is the whole song.
The first verse repeats. The second verse repeats twice. The song is over. While being repetitive as any song can be, it sounds only soothing and comfortable. Music that floats into our ears. The message seeps into our consciousness, and makes us calm. The song makes us happy.
When Bob Marley was not demanding peace through anthems like “Get Up, Stand Up,” or demanding justice and parity in songs like “I Shot the Sheriff,” he was bringing the quiet, the sublime joy of his peaceful Jamaican heritage and tradition to the world. “Don’t worry,” he was telling us. “Everything is going to be ok.”
“Three Little Birds”
Written and performed by Bob Marley
Released June 3, 1977