Jim Adams is the host of Mindlovemisery Menagerie’s Music Challenge. Jim says:
The challenge today is to focus on Bob Marley and The Wailers’ song, “I Shot the Sheriff” and use it for inspiration in any form of creative expression (including but not limited to short stories, poems, lyrics, artwork, photography, (etc.).
After reading the lyrics, and using stream of consciousness, what bubbles to the surface is Popeye, the famous cartoon sailor, saying, “It’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.” When Popeye says this, it is usually Brutus harassing Popeye or harassing Olive Oyl, the lanky female that both Popeye and Brutus are sweet on. Where Popeye is the bashful, yet congenial sailor who is hoping to win Olive’s affection, Brutus is the stereotypical testosterone-jacked bruiser who chronically forces himself on Olive in various ways. I think one of the reasons why I loved Popeye so much as a kid is not so much because he kicked Brutus’ butt every time after eating his magic spinach, but because he was willing to protect her from the brute that is Brutus.
I see Brutus as Sheriff John Brown in this story. As a kid did you ever wonder why Brutus acted the way he did? Since he was so consistently a brute, the conclusion many/most kids would draw is that Brutus is just that way and he needs to be avoided or to be dealt with to get him off my back or to stop him from harming someone I care about. Marley states that he doesn’t know why the sheriff is out to get him. Maybe that’s just the way the sheriff is, which is targeting and malicious, as Brutus is. Marley tried to avoid Sheriff John Brown when freedom came his way, but then he was in the crosshairs of the sheriff’s scope; this left him no choice.
Marley says that reflexes got the better of him and he shot the sheriff. Imagine if Popeye wound up that spinach-infused forearm of his, punched Brutus across the screen, and Brutus fell flat dead. In cartoons the villains reanimate in the next cartoon. I don’t think the sheriff will be coming back. The cartoons couldn’t afford to have any corpses on their hands. In Marley’s song, death is the only way the song can exist, as Marley was using self-defense and shot first.
As to why they are trying to pin the death of the deputy on Marley, it’s hard to say. Maybe there were people who hated the deputy and one saw an opportunity to kill the deputy and pin it on Marley as being part of a double homicide. Brutus worked alone so there is no comparison to speak of.
I started this with Popeye’s, “It’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.” I see this as Marley’s bottom dropping out of the bucket. Maybe Marley’s reflexes got the better of him; maybe not. Maybe the bottom dropped out and he mentally quoted Popeye as he pulled the trigger.
The sheriff needed to die if he wouldn’t back off, and he wouldn’t back off. This is shown by, “Every time that I plant a seed…” I take the seed as literal seeds that are planted in hopes of a food crop. Where Popeye’s magic crop was spinach, Marley’s may have been weed, but I think it was the type of food crops grown in Jamaica. The campaign against Marley by the sheriff, the boots on the ground interface of a government ends, but now he faces the boots behind the bench.