Bob Marley - No Woman, No Cry - 1975


Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" is one of the most iconic songs in the history of reggae music. Released in 1975, this song not only showcases Marley's unique talent and style but also delivers a powerful message of hope and resilience. In this section, you'll learn about the song's background, its lyrical content, and the impact it has had on music and culture worldwide.

Background of the Song

Bob Marley wrote "No Woman, No Cry" during a period of significant political and social unrest in Jamaica. The song first appeared on the 1974 studio album "Natty Dread," but it was the live version from the 1975 album "Live!" that gained worldwide fame. The title and chorus of the song, "No woman, no cry," is often misunderstood. In Jamaican Patois, the phrase "no cry" is a comforting expression, meaning "don't cry."

The song's lyrics reflect Marley's childhood experiences in Trench Town, a poor neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica. The lyrics speak of struggling through poverty and hardship but finding comfort in companionship and hope for a better future.

Musical Elements and Style

The song is an excellent example of reggae, a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. It features a slow tempo, steady rhythm, and characteristic offbeat accents known as the skank. The instrumentation typically includes drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, and the Hammond organ. Marley's version also features a choir that adds to the spiritual and communal feel of the song.

Impact and Legacy

"No Woman, No Cry" has been covered by numerous artists and bands across various genres, demonstrating its universal appeal. The song is not just a musical masterpiece but also a symbol of the struggles faced by the marginalized and a message of hope and unity. It helped to bring reggae and Jamaican music to a global audience and remains a powerful influence in music today.

For further reading on Bob Marley and reggae music, visit MOOCit.

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

In what year was the live version of "No Woman, No Cry" released? (1975) (!1974) (!1976) (!1973)

What neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica, is mentioned in "No Woman, No Cry"? (Trench Town) (!Spanish Town) (!Franklyn Town) (!Stony Hill)

What is the main theme of "No Woman, No Cry"? (Overcoming hardship and finding hope) (!Celebrating wealth and success) (!A romantic love story) (!A call to political action)

Which musical genre does "No Woman, No Cry" belong to? (Reggae) (!Rock) (!Jazz) (!Hip-hop)

What does the phrase "No woman, no cry" actually mean in Jamaican Patois? (Don't cry) (!Life is better without women) (!Women bring sadness) (!No woman can make me cry)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

What is Bob Marley's full name? (Robert Nesta Marley) (!Robert Marley Smith) (!Nesta Robert Marley) (!Bob Nesta Marley)

In which year was Bob Marley born? (1945) (!1940) (!1950) (!1948)

Which band was Bob Marley a part of? (The Wailers) (!The Beatles) (!The Rolling Stones) (!Maroon 5)

In what country was Bob Marley born? (Jamaica) (!United States) (!United Kingdom) (!Nigeria)

Which of the following genres is Bob Marley most associated with? (Reggae) (!Rock) (!Blues) (!Pop)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

Which line follows "No woman, no cry" in the chorus? ('Cause - 'cause - 'cause I remember when we used to sit) (!In the government yard in Trench Town) (!Then we would cook cornmeal porridge) (!Of which I'll share with you)

What dish is mentioned in the song as being shared among friends? (Cornmeal porridge) (!Jerk chicken) (!Ackee and saltfish) (!Curry goat)

According to the song, where did the narrator and his friends sit? (In a government yard in Trench Town) (!On the beach at Kingston) (!In a park in Spanish Town) (!At a café in Montego Bay)

Which of the following is a recurring theme in the lyrics of "No Woman, No Cry"? (Hope and resilience in the face of hardship) (!The joys of falling in love) (!The importance of wealth) (!The beauty of nature)

What musical instrument is NOT mentioned in the song's lyrics? (Piano) (!Guitar) (!Drums) (!Harmonica)


Trench Town A neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica
1975 Year of the famous live version's release
Reggae Genre of "No Woman, No Cry"
Cornmeal porridge Food mentioned in the song
Hope and resilience Main themes of the song

Open Tasks


  1. Create a Playlist: Make a playlist of songs that have similar themes of hope and resilience as "No Woman, No Cry."
  2. Draw a Scene: Illustrate a scene that you imagine when listening to "No Woman, No Cry."
  3. Write a Poem: Write a poem inspired by the message and themes in "No Woman, No Cry."


  1. Research Reggae Music: Explore the history of reggae music and its impact on global music culture.
  2. Analyze Lyrics: Analyze the lyrics of "No Woman, No Cry" and discuss how they relate to Bob Marley's life experiences.
  3. Compare and Contrast: Compare "No Woman, No Cry" with another Bob Marley song and discuss the similarities and differences in their themes.


  1. Study Jamaican Patois: Learn about Jamaican Patois and translate a verse of "No Woman, No Cry" into Standard English.
  2. Music Composition: Compose a piece of music inspired by "No Woman, No Cry," incorporating reggae elements.
  3. Cultural Impact Essay: Write an essay on the cultural impact of "No Woman, No Cry" in the context of Jamaican history and global music.

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Oral Exam

  1. Discuss Bob Marley's Influence: Explain how Bob Marley's music, particularly "No Woman, No Cry," has influenced modern music and culture.
  2. Exploring Themes: Discuss the themes of hope and resilience in "No Woman, No Cry" and how they relate to contemporary social issues.
  3. Music and Emotions: Explore how "No Woman, No Cry" evokes emotions and what musical elements contribute to this.
  4. Reggae's Global Reach: Discuss how reggae music, as exemplified by "No Woman, No Cry," has impacted global music genres.
  5. Lyrics Interpretation: Interpret the lyrics of "No Woman, No Cry" and discuss how they reflect the socio-political context of 1970s Jamaica.

OERs on the Topic


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