Haile Selassie

Album: The People's Key (2011)

Songfacts®:

  • Haile Selassie was Ethiopia's Emperor between 1930 and 1974, when he was deposed by a military coup. The Rastafari movement considers him to be the Biblical messiah, the incarnation of God who will lead followers into a new golden age, hence his importance to Jamaican reggae musicians such as Bob Marley. Though Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst doesn't necessarily believe in the tenets of Rastafarianism, he admires the values within the reggae community. Said Oberst to American songwriter magazine: "Lyrically, I've always liked reggae music, but liked the lyrical themes which are kind of redemption, and liberation, and overcoming oppressive evil. In their case they're singing about imperial powers, the oppression of the poor people, and those ideas. The way I'm thinking about them it's more about humanity as a whole. I do really believe that there are evil people in the world and there are good people, and often times the evil people run the show. I find a lot of the imagery in reggae music can be so potent and powerful, so I guess in a sense I co-opted some of those ideas, maybe took it out of context. But I still think it's applicable to a wider message. It's basically like people that believe in peace and love and equality of all humans, seeing one another in each other."
  • The tempo is noticeably different from most of Bright Eyes' offerings. The song marks a growth in the band's musical context and ability to connect its music to different international genres.

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