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LISTEN: Reggae Great Delroy Wilson Sings ‘This Life Makes Me Wonder’

by on Monday, March 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

In 1961, a thirteen year old Delroy Wilson began his music career in Kingston, Jamaica, recording ska hits penned by Lee “scratch” Perry, Coxsone Dodd, amongst others. His music evolved with the sounds of 60’s Jamaica from ska to rocksteady and eventually to reggae. By the late-60s/early-70s he was one of the most influential reggae recording stars on the island.

He first toured the U.K. in 1970, where British reggae label Trojan Records had him record a number of songs — a move that would help him to expand his European footprint.

By the mid-70s many British punks, including The Clash’s Joe Strummer, counted themselves as Delroy Wilson fans. Strummer, at the time, attended a reggae concert at the Hammersmith Palais to see Wilson and fellow Kingston musicians Dillinger and Leroy Smart perform. Expecting a rebellious ‘roots reggae’ performance, Strummer felt disappointed by their sets, claiming them to be “all very Vegas.”

British film director and musician Don Letts, who attended the show with Strummer, reflected on the evening: “I think that show was an eye opener for [Strummer], realizing that all these people were trying to get out of the ghetto roots life.”

The event inspired Strummer to pen the lyrics for one of The Clash’s biggest hits: “White Man In Hammersmith Palais.” In it you can hear Strummer shout out “Delroy Wilson, your cool operator.”

Wilson died at the age of 46 on March 6, 1995 of cirrhosis of the liver. He is often noted for his soulful vocals and melancholy lyrics. Of his many great songs, one of my personal favorites is his 1968 recording, “This Life Makes Me Wonder.” The lyrics are simple, yet strangely haunting, and the music is just so damned melodic:

This life makes me wonder
how to live another day to come
This life makes me wonder
how to live another day to come

I feel the strong of the hand of one that I was depending on

It takes a friend… to be a friend

It takes a friend… to stop a friend



Delroy Wilson’s greatest hits album, Once Upon A Time, which features this song, can be downloaded here: