"I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy!

   I love Bob Marley, but who doesn’t anyway, it’s over 30 years after his death and it’s still hard to find anyone with even the most casual passing knowledge of music who doesn't know who Marley is. He's an international icon. I remember watching this video of him playing with his back to the crowd. The band carried him for the most part, though he did a stirring rendition of Redemption Song; only to find out  that he was sick - diagnosed with cancer just the day before that performance. Such a pity! 

I love bob's songs. No woman no cry and I shot the sheriff is one of my Favorite.



When I was younger I never really understood what the song “I shot the Sheriff” meant but now I’m going to try to break down the way I understand it. The beauty of this song is that the lyrics can be looked at it many different ways, and can also be interpreted differently depending on the person who is interpreting it.




The song, like many Bob Marley’s songs is about Injustice. I doubt this song is entirely about cannabis as a lot of people think. I'm sorry to be really annoying, but Bob Marley was about MUCH MORE than just marijuana. It drives me nuts when people think he was some sort of drug legalization crusader.  We are talking about a man that received recognition from the UN for moving peace in Africa and fighting for the rights of all people.  Anyway, not every word of the song should be taken literally. To me, this song is referring to the blatant injustice that went/goes on in the world. The entire shooting of sheriff brown is a representation of the corruption in the police force/government, especially against minorities. Sheriff Brown had been trying to kill him, so he had to defend himself, but in the end was convicted of murder of the Deputy too - blatant injustice. I think the name John Brown is an ambiguous name, I don't think he is/was a real person. It just represents the prejudice of the government at the time of the release of the song. Remember, Marley's stuff was very political and social in nature. That’s just my opinion anyway.

PS: Eric Clapton's version is good, but Bob Marley's original goes straight for the heart and gut.



I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy.
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy.

All around in my home town
they’re trying to track me down.
They say they want to bring me in guilty
For the killing of a deputy,
For the life of a deputy.
But I say:

I shot the sheriff, but I swear it was in self-defense.
I shot the sheriff, and they say it is a capital offense.

Sheriff John Brown always hated me;
For what I don't know.
Every time that I plant a seed
He said, "Kill it before it grows."
He said, "Kill it before it grows."
I say:

I shot the sheriff, but I swear it was in self-defense.
I shot the sheriff, but I swear it was in self-defense.

Freedom came my way one day
And I started out of town.
All of a sudden I see sheriff John Brown
Aiming to shoot me down.
So I shot, I shot him down.
I say:

I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy.
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy.

Reflexes got the better of me
And what is to be must be.
Every day the bucket goes to the well,
But one day the bottom will drop out,
Yes, one day the bottom will drop out.
But I say:

I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy, oh no.
I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy, oh no.