Friday, 17 April 2020

Vincent's Story

Today's musical choice is a song about being content with what you've got and holding on to optimism in times of difficulty. It may or may not be to your taste musically but I hope you'll at least find the story behind it interesting. It was told to me by someone who was brought up in Jamaica and was a big fan of reggae music. If there are any mistakes in this account they are almost certainly mine.

On the record label it read:

No Woman No Cry
(V Ford)
Bob Marley and the Wailers

But just who was V Ford?

Vincent Ford, often known simply by his nickname "Tata", was born in Trenchtown, one of the poorest areas of Kingston, Jamaica. He was a friend of the young Bob Marley and managed to keep him out of serious trouble during his youth. Although never a wealthy man, Vincent was a source of advice and encouragement to those he knew and was always willing to share whatever he had with his friends. He eventually ran a soup kitchen to help the poor of his neighbourhood. 

In the 1970s his friend Bob Marley suddenly became a worldwide star, though his Rastafarian beliefs were often at odds with the music industry. In particular he was in dispute with his manager over song-writing royalties. Marley had no objection to his manager receiving a cut of the money from the tours he organised, or the record deals he negotiated on the band's behalf, but he didn't see why he should be entitled to share in the proceeds of the songwriting, in which he had no creative part. Like many young musicians of that era Bob had signed a contract without reading the small print and could do nothing to change things.

Despite his rather chaotic lifestyle and his consumption of industrial quantities of marijuana, Marley was an astute man and soon saw a way through the impasse: rather than claim authorship of the songs himself he would attribute them to his close friends and family, thereby depriving his management of their cut while still providing for those he cared about. And thus it was that Vincent Ford, a man with no previous musical pedigree, found himself the writer of four of Marley's songs, including his biggest hit.

Nobody really believed the story about him composing the song,  but lawyers couldn't disprove it and Ford was too smart to ever answer the question directly. And so the work of the Trenchtown soup kitchen was able to continue and Vincent Ford himself came to rely on his friend's generosity when he became a wheelchair-user during the last years of his life.

Remember: "Ever'thing's gonna be alright, ever'thing's gonna be alright......"

Take care.


  1. Hi John - how really interesting. I had a brief look about Marley and hadn't realised he'd died from a particularly nasty form of skin cancer; the other interesting snippet (for me!) is his wife - she's done an amazing amount of charity helping kids ... also made interesting reading. All the best - loved this story - thank you, Hilary

  2. Fascinating story John - I have always been a fan of his but I didn't know a lot about his life.

  3. Great story. I don't know if I ever heard Bob Marley, certainly not knowingly. I confess to listening only to classical music and opera. We have radio stations that play these genres 24/7 and they are are the only stations I listen to, and my entire CD collection (hardly used any more) is organized by composer, orchestra, soloist etc. The live performances I attend are at the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the local Chamber Music Society, and used to include a fine operatic company, but it met its demise. And after an entire lifetime of doing that, it is unlikely I am going to change now!

    1. The choice is of course entirely yours, David, though Sir Thomas Beecham did say that you should try everything once, except incest and Morris dancing.

  4. I am not a lover of reggae but have always enjoyed that song. Thanks for the story behind its composer.

  5. That was a great stirybto read...I don't know a lot of reggae music, but I do know his!

  6. I remember loving reggae when I first heard it in the 80s. But I'd never heard this story. Thanks so much for sharing it and the lovely song. There's just one kind of music that I don't like (Country Western).

  7. What a great story and a good song for our times. I haven't heard that song in a long time. It's nice to be reminded.

  8. I loved this post John and learnt a lot.
    Thank you!

  9. I enjoyed this post and story very much. Thank you for sharing. Stay safe and have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  10. Interesting story that I wasn't familar with. I do like some of Marley's music though.

  11. I love that story! I love all kinds of music including classical, opera, Rock, country, etc! Loved listening to this song today!

  12. I did enjoy the story very much John.. Bob Marley did well to outsmart his manager, I think many showbiz managers took advantage of the talent of their clients.

  13. Excellent mantra for these days as our rash governor has opened everything back up and the tourists will be descending starting Tuesday.

  14. While Bob Marley was not a performed I have listened to, I did enjoy this backstory, John.


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