“I shoot the Sheriff” is as relevant in 2020 as it was in 1973 when Bob Marley wrote it. When reggae was famous in the early on 70s (Johnny Nash’s “I deserve to See clearly Now” to be released in 1972), it took Eric Clapton‘s variation released one year later on to put this tune on the map, or much more accurately, on the radio. No one can dispute that both guys are legends and also this tune was therefore strongly created that it worked as an urban blues/rock cover, and in its initial reggae form. What we can problem is “Who did that better?”

“I shooting The Sheriff” is probably Bob Marley’s most well known song and also was originally recorded for the Wailers‘ 1973 album Burnin’. Sadly, it to be the last single Marley released with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, both left to walk solo. The song tells the story the a man who shooting a sheriff who is harassing him however is mistakenly accused of killing the deputy. Marley stated that some of it is true, however would no say what parts. He went on to say, “I want to say ‘I shoot the police’ however the federal government would have made a fuss therefore I said ‘I shoot the sheriff’ instead… but it’s the same idea: justice.”

Eric Clapton demands no introduction, that was part of the seminal bands Cream, blind Faith, The Yardbirds, and Derek & The Dominos. He also had a an extremely successful solo career, however his just #1 ~ above the hot 100, either with a tape or solo, to be his covering of “I shoot The Sheriff.” He came close in 1992 with “Tears In Heaven,” which reached #2. Clapton preserved the underlying reggae beat native Marley’s original however made it an ext of a well-produced rock song, with influential organ and also guitar.

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Seth Warden, Warden and also Co.

I uncovered Bob Marley (thank god…I median Jah) because of the Eric Clapton cover. That wild that a blues/rock artist can adapt a reggae vocal so well and also make it your own. Ns love Clapton’s version so much and also am grateful that it caused me to Marley’s catalog, however once that did, ns was important hooked top top the Jamaican sound. So much so, the I created my High School an elderly term document on Bob Marley. Both versions space fantastic, however if I had to chose, and also I must for the services of this article, it would certainly be “Robert Nesta Marley’s” version. 

Dave Geoghegan, Dr. Jah and also the Love Prophets

Do you prefer it raw? Or Polished? That’s the big question for me here. It’s nice clear the Bob is talking around an suffer that was yes, really happening come him and also his civilization at the time. Fighting back, standing increase for her beliefs. A raw emotionally journey with the eye of an oppressed man, this to be life or death. If ns can’t to escape Sherrif john Brown, he’s gonna death me. Bob to be a master of taking genuine people’s feelings and lives and translating that right into song. Bob’s a storyteller who can sing.

Eric’s a music genius. He take it the blueprint because that the song and created a transcendent performance. His capacity to incorporate his absent sound and also Bob’s lyrics and also rhythm makes this cut special. There room no turbulent edges, and everything appears perfect. Eric bring to the music what Bob carried to the feeling.

Which one’s better, because that me, it’s Bob. The newness the the sound and also the ability to take a brand-new and unknown music kind ( reggae) and also develop that from a particle is unique. But, what i really great we had actually was Eric in Bob’s band for the night. Man, that would certainly be something come see. One Love!

Andy Gregory, WEXT

The an initial time i heard this tune was the version by Eric Clapton, and I’m sure it was on to be radio. Ns hadn’t quite found the marvels of the FM dial as I did during my teen years. Really, it to be the funky groove that captured my ear. “Shot the sheriff?” I had actually no idea what the meant, other than that appeared a little dangerous to do.

I didn’t become mindful of Marley’s initial until the 1980’s, where a man in our university dorm to be a large reggae and dub fan, as I hazily remember. Ns could much better appreciate the song and lyrics, however it didn’t to win me in quite the same way.

I have actually to give the nod to Clapton here, if only since his version was the one i knew best.

Chris Shaw, Adirondack folk Singer

Actually, i have heard as plenty of covers of “I shoot the Sheriff” as the following guy, (tons more if you counting the variety of guys at the NAMM display in Los Angeles that were constantly playing it at every manufacturer’s booth.) but for my money, you can not beat the Marley and theWailers version. Renders you feel choose you’re on the street in Kingston with jerk chicken in one hand and also a Red stripe in the other…

Lucas Garrett, Singer-Songwriter

So, I’d choose to briefly weigh in on something prior to giving my thoughts on each version of the song. Determining which song is far better is as subjective a job as most things space in music. Possibly it should be framed as which variation is many relevant or impactful ~ above the arts form. That being said, I can pull in ~ that specific thread for ages and end up talking myself in circles. On come the song.

Before we think about each artist, stop evaluate the lyrics; a part of the composition ns feel is oft overlooked. One only needs to check out the words to start knowledge what Marley to be singing around at the time he composed the tune. The an ext things change, the more they sadly continue to be the same. This song, at its crux, is around the be oppressive that civilization of color – in this case, black world – face at the hand of regulation enforcement. The rhythms in Marley’s version, specifically the interplay between the bass and percussion room such a well-off sound, steeped greatly in reggae and also Jamaican traditions, and also in my watch also aid drive the an interpretation of this song home. Looking in ~ Clapton’s version, we begin to view something rather going; miscellaneous that countless musicians space guilty of throughout the food of their career. This ‘something’ come which ns refer is cultural appropriation.

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During the seventies, Clapton graced us v what many contact his “reggae” period, in which that penned various other songs through a similar vibe to that which we heard in his version of I shot the Sheriff. Come me, Clapton took every the raw, and also visceral facets that do Marley’s version good and memorable, and also then proceeded come sand those parts means down. Whatever is perfectly with time in Clapton’s version, and all components are dripping with technical proficiency. But, where’s the feel? where’s the emotion that hits you best in the gut choose what is feeling in Marley’s version? among the most powerful lines in Marley’s variation is as soon as he cries out, pleading and acknowledging that “if i am guilty, I need to pay.” that line just doesn’t exist in Clapton’s version. If you want a tune with emotion, definition and impact, you need to go with Marley’s version. If you’re looking for technical proficiency, go v Clapton. No one can doubt his capability to play, I just would it is in remiss if ns don’t say i doubt his sincerity behind his version.