‘Let Him Go’ by Bunny Wailer: A Spiritual Reflection

There are people who come into our lives able to shape anew the way we think and act in the world. This post is by one of the shapers in my own life. His name is John and we met in seminary. This post is his reflection on ‘Let Him Go.’ I hope you enjoy.

When you choose strength in the face of suffering, you are broken open to God.

This beautiful song written by Bunny Wailer, formerly of Bob Marley and the Wailers, is an anthem for the Rude Boys (also called Rudie or Natty) in Jamaica. The Rude Boys were the ones brave enough to disrupt the oppressive, neocolonial environment.  Just like The Wailers.

The Wailers, who were raised in hardship in Trench Town, called this world, “Babylon.” It’s a place where wise, strong, and young men are thrown in Prison to be forgotten—just as they are today, all over the world.

Bunny Wailer’s “Let Him Go” is a cry for the release of one of these boys. The song’s most prophetic line is, “You know that he is wise. You know that he strong. I CALL that he is YOUNG and he will LIVE LONG.” The phrasing is transcendent. It rings with the truth of a person who himself was wrongly thrown in jail for thirteen months during the most vulnerable and formative years of his life.

By releasing this young man, he is given the chance to become the person God created him to be. Although we may not all face a jail cell, the fear that we won’t live into who we were created to become is very familiar. As the Gospel of Thomas puts it, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

Babylon and its prison can ultimately silence a person, but we silence ourselves everyday.

Bunny’s prophetic wail resonates for anyone feeling imprisoned by a world controlled by a psychology of fear. In theatrical fashion, Bunny, who is known as a “wrathful prophet,” chooses a buoyantly smooth style to deliver the simple message: “Let Him Go.” Let the wise, strong, and young part of you GO and be FREE. Don’t fear humiliation. Bunny has felt plenty of that (see his recent feud with Snoop Lion).  Stare in the face of those who scorn you and do not merely demand your freedom—express it.

Bunny Wailer

“Let Him Go”

I’d like to say!
 Natty come from jail ’cause Natty get bail 
Natty, Natty come from jail ’cause Natty get bail

You frame him and said he’s done, the things he didn’t do 
You rebuke him, you scorn him, and you make him feel blue

But you got to let him go, got to let him go
 Let him go, I beg you let him go
Let him go, let him, let him go, why oh?
 I said to let him go – why oh? 
Let him go, I beg you let him, let him go 
Let him go, let him go 
I said to let him go, let him, let him go, why oh?
 I said to let him go and mi say, why oh?


Natty come from jail ’cause Natty get bail 
Natty come from jail ’cause Natty get bail

Remember he is wise, remember he is strong 
I call that he is young and he will live long

 So you got to let him go, got to let him go
 Let him go
Let him go, let him, let him go, why oh?
 I said to let him go, I’d say, why oh? 
Let him go, got to let him go 
I beg you let him, let him go 
Let him go, let him, let him go, why oh? 
I said to let him go, 
I’d say, why oh, why oh, why oh, why oh, why?

You nuh know how you make the dread feel ya,
I know that time will tell
 Though you lock him in a rottin’ old cell

 You got to let him go, got to let him go 
Let him go
I beg you let him go, let him go
Let him, let him go, why oh?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s