In the last couple of days, we saw exactly how pretty words can be put in the mouths of even the most famous dead people. Unless you've been hiding out in the Tora Bora cave complex the past few days, you've heard all about how Martin Luther King never said, "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy."
And neither did Mark Twain ever say that he "read some obituaries with great pleasure." In fact, here's what he did once say:
"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."
And Clarence Darrow, the great early 20th century attorney, once said this: "I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction."
All of that erroneous quoting reminded us of something that has been bothering us for the past year or so; namely, whether or not Bob Marley really said this:
"Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for."
It is all over the Net -- over a million citations, all credited to Marley. We've come across at least a hundred people who use it as their favorite quote on their Facebook page. And we are almost certain that Marley never said or sang anything of the sort. Over 4.4 million people have "liked" the quotation's fan page, for crying out loud.
We searched Google Groups and were unable to come across any use of that quote before 2001, two decades after Marley's death. You'd think a quote as popular as that one has proven, one allegedly uttered by one of the most famous entertainers in world history, would have turned up sooner.
We checked out the pretty exhaustive list of Marley's quotes on his top-listed fan site, and there's no mention of it there. Again, you'd think the rabid Marley fans who run that site would have slapped it on there.
It is not sourced to any song.
Other people can't find it sourced to any interviews or other public utterances either.
And while it does kinda sound like something he might put in a love song, it doesn't really sound like something he would have experienced in life.
This was a man who had eleven or twelve kids with eight or nine women, all while remaining married to his first wife (who also sexually explored). (Sources vary on the actual number of kids and women.) Maybe by "suffering for" he meant "impregnating," but that is not a Jamaican slang usage we have come across.
So we are kinda throwing down the gauntlet here to the whole entire Internet:
Can anyone cite a primary source that proves Bob Marley actually uttered those now-ubiquitous words?
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.