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"Buffalo Soldier"
Single by Bob Marley & The Wailers
from the album Confrontation
Released 1983
Genre Reggae
Length 4:15
Writer(s) Bob Marley & King Sporty
Bob Marley & The Wailers singles chronology
"Chant Down Babylon" "Buffalo Soldier" "Jump Nyabinghi"

"Buffalo Soldier" is a reggae song co-written by Bob Marley and Noel G. "King Sporty" Williams from Marley's final recording sessions in 1980. It did not appear on record until the 1983 posthumous release of Confrontation, when it became a big hit and one of Marley's best-known songs. It is often considered Bob Marley's most famous song, and is his most played radio single.

The title and lyrics refer to the black U.S. cavalry regiments, known as "Buffalo Soldiers", that fought in the Indian Wars after 1866. Marley likened their fight to a fight for survival, and recasts it as a symbol of black resistance.[1] The lyrics cannot be interpreted literally due to historical inaccuracies. References to "Stolen from Africa, brought to America, Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival" conflict with the fact that importation of slaves to the United States was banned from 1808 onward, so that the youngest person "stolen from Africa" would have been 58 years old when the Buffalo Soldier regiments were first formed in 1866. The ban was largely flouted, however. Likewise the opening line "Buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta" is historically inaccurate since the Rastafarian movement was not founded until the 1930s and centers around the person of Haile Selassie, who was not born until 1892.

The song's bridge, with the lyrics woy! yoy! yoy!, is similar to the chorus of the Banana Splits' "The Tra-La-La Song", the 1968 theme from their TV show; The Dickies had a #7 hit in the UK in 1979 with a cover of the song. Scholars disagree on whether the complexity of the section is strong enough to be considered plagiarism; the melodic run of 8-6-5 is common on the simple pentatonic scale. There has never been any litigation connected to the similarity.[2]

The song has been covered by many artists, including Cultura Profética (on their album Tribute to the Legend: Bob Marley) and Vanilla Ice (on his 2008 album Vanilla Ice Is Back!)[3].


  1. ^ Black Heretics, Black Prophets: Radical Political Intellectuals - Bogues, Anthony, Page 198, via Google Books. Accessed 2008-06-28.
  2. ^ Adam Conner-Simons (July 24, 2007). "Picking Up What They're Laying Down". Gelf Magazine.  
  3. ^ "ASIN: B001I1TU2Y". Retrieved 2008-11-05.  


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