Walking through the village of Slane with Natty Wailer is like walking through with the Mayor. He knows lots of people, everybody knows him, from the local kids to the waitress in the coffee shop we went to. He talks about forming a bond with the people, living in the moment. His philosophy “In terms of timing, it don’t matter where you are in creation, it’s a matter of who you’re with”. He’s sees himself as a self-appointed reggae ambassador. “Life is not a destination, but a journey. Music keeps you healthy, it keeps you young if that’s what you are looking for, it makes you happy. Music is an art, it’s a giving and a taking.”
“I have one prayer that I pray and it coincides with my whole life and it’s Ja which to us or another person it’s God and it’s goes – ‘Ja, give me the spiritual strength to face all the tasks that life poses’. When happiness is inside you, somebody else is waiting outside to get in. That’s me for the moment. That’s my music”.
Natty met an Irish woman in Jamaica and that brought him to Ireland. He said there are plenty of Irish people out in Jamaica. He reckons there is a connection between the Irish and the Jamaicans, maybe they’re not consciously aware of it but if they were to think about it they’d realise ‘this is our kind of people’. “The color of a mans skin, just like the color of his eyes, is not significant. We realise, let it look like a rainbow. Look at creation, there are so many colors around us”. He loves it in Ireland, he is currently living in Galway but is hoping to move to more central location musically. His partner Delphine is his manager and she has been listening to reggae music since she was very young. Natty says they work so well together. “I’m so happy she’s on board, she’s the one who makes this possible”.
We talked about Barack Obama. Natty said he’s watching him, he’s watching his progress. “Everybody is watching him. Saying things like he’s not American, he’s from somewhere else. I heard somebody else say he’s another Rev. Jesse Jackson. But he got my attention when he said that ‘the Republicans are saying the Democrates are not ready to lead, they are saying I am not experienced enough to be president. But I’d like to debate McCain, I’d like some information’. And that means that he has enough information to want to speak to McCain. It’s not about him, if it’s about him then we will lose. The world has to give this guy credit.”
His new album is entitled Destiny. “What part do I play? Where do I stand. I do hope that the little music I play has a part. A part in the change, a part in the hope. Because we came from the ghetto, some local people playing this music and all of a sudden the world starts listening and all of a sudden the world recognises this is not music from the ghetto. It comes from the ghetto but it’s the music, the voice of the people. I want to get my songs out there, I want to do more charity and get so much more involved”.
What does Reggae music and the Rastifarian way of life have to offer people who are not Rasta? “People come to listen to music, I have had people come up to me, which to me is a big deal. I had this woman come up to me with a cold bottle of beer and she’s sweating, she said to me ‘Natty, I’ve been stressed for the past month and then you start playing and I don’t know where my stress went’. That’s the spiritual path. If Ireland can embrace Reggae as, not just a form of entertainment but a vehicle for voices. Irish people identify with Reggae for two reason. Bob Marley spoke about oppression and freeing our minds from mental slavery. Years ago there were upheavals and misunderstandings. I’ve heard Irish musicians who used to play rock and acid and they have said to me when they hear Reggae it calms them. In Ireland they say ‘love’ when they’re speaking to eachother, whether or not they mean it. I read it somewhere – don’t think you can direct the course of love, it is love that finds you and will direct your course”.
Natty speaks about love and destiny and Ja. At this point in the interview the cafe we are sitting in starts to play Natty’s new album. He’s delighted. He has messages in his song. “I could have been a jazz player or a blues player, but I’m from that hemisphere, I’m from Reggae. When the consciousness of Rasta comes around, like with Bob, the music becomes more purposeful. People before and after Bob, there were others”. At this point Natty breaks into a few lines of Desmond Dekker Israelites. “We know that two thirds of the population are living in relative poverty and a third is enjoying the richness of creation. I say shake it up, start over. Redistribution of wealth. If you say this they call it socialism, but so what. We sing a song about this, not socialism but social living is the best. To each according to his own ability. There is a saying ‘There is enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed’. At the end of the day, there is enough for everyone’s need. I cry sometimes. I feel guilty sometimes when I’m sitting in front of a plate of food.”
Natty Wailer, aka Ian Wynter, toured with Bob Marley and The Wailers for 9 years. “Every morning I get up, every midday, every evening, when I realise I have a mission to go play some music, that memory is the contribution of Bob Marley and The Wailers. Because I could have gone off and been an engineer, a lawyer, a garbage collector or whatever but destiny happened. I met this bass player and he brought me up to the head quarters, a couple of days after, I met Bob. I was introduced as a musician and I was there because of music, but there were other areas too – we’d play football at the camp, we’d do rehearsals”.
At the moment you can catch Natty Wailer on his tour of Ireland. His next date is The Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire and after that he is playing at ‘Trenchtown’ a Jamaican village in the heart of the Electric Picnic Festival in Stradbally. Check out his MySpace for more touring information and also to listen to some good reggae vibes. Ja.