“I loved performing this song all over the world,” Rita tells us.
Rita Marley is perhaps best known as Bob Marley’s widow, but she is an accomplished musician in her own right. She is now being celebrated as such, first with the recent reissue of her finest work, in a vinyl LP pressing, Lioness of Reggae: The Best of Rita Marley. And then with a new limited-edition sweatshirt celebrating her iconic 1981 song, “One Draw,” available right here.
THE MAKING OF THE HOODIE
Cedella Marley couldn’t wait to get her hands on the sweatshirt prototype that was emblazoned with the cover art from her mother’s song, “One Draw,” which Tuff Gong Studios released in 1981. “I love it,” she gushed, “but the art needs to be lower. You can’t see it under the hoodie, right?” She went on to admire the thread-wrapped pulls of the sweatshirt, but suggested changing the colors to the classic rasta red, yellow and green. As for the August release date, Cedella had an idea: “August 23, on my birthday!”
THE RITA MARLEY FOUNDATION
This is no ordinary sweatshirt. Not only were Cedella and Rita Marley directly involved in its design, they also decided to direct a portion of proceeds from each sweatshirt to The Rita Marley Foundation, which is dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger, while empowering communities in Africa, Jamaica and beyond. (To read about the good work The Bob Marley Foundation is doing, check out this post.)
THE HISTORY OF “ONE DRAW”
When it came out in 1981, "One Draw" was banned by radio stations due to its ahead-of-its-time pro-marijuana message. The ban turned out to be good PR, and fueled sales. To date, the album has sold more than two million copies. When Rita thinks back on it, what she remembers most is how much fun she had playing the song. “Even before the herb became legal, I loved performing this song all over the world,” she says. “Everyone loves it.” It’s been covered many times over the years, and Cypress Hill’s rendition is Rita’s favorite.
THE MEANING OF THE SONG
“I wanna get high, so high
One draw, one draw
One draw, one draw
Hey, Rastaman, hey, what you say?”
With lyrics like this, it’s clear that the song is a love letter to ganja. “Talking about the herb always makes me proud,” says Rita. “Hopefully one day the herb will be used to medical treatments. We know it can get us high—but we also need to know the medicinal benefits.” Spoken like a true Marley. (Stephen Marley recently talked to Tuff Gong Collective about his passion for spreading the word about the benefits of the herb at his annual Kaya Festival: Read more here.)
We asked Rita, “If you could play this song for anyone in the world, who would it be?” Her answer? “The pope.”