Iron Lion Zion


Iron Lion Zion: The Story Behind Bob Marley's Classic Song

Iron Lion Zion is one of the most popular songs created by the legendary musician Bob Marley. It was released in 1992, posthumously, and has since become a staple for reggae lovers around the world. Bob Marley had a special affinity for lions, which he believed embodied bravery, pride, and strength. This is evidenced by the fact that he often referred to himself as a lion in his music.

The song has a catchy beat with an upbeat reggae rhythm that has been known to get people on their feet. The lyrics are about moving forward with strength and conviction, even when there are obstacles in the way. Bob Marley sings about the iron lion within himself, representing the courage and determination he possesses. In this article, we will delve into the story behind the song, its lyrical and musical elements, and what it means to fans of Bob Marley's music.

Bob Marley and the Making of Iron Lion Zion

Iron Lion Zion was originally written and recorded in 1973 by Bob Marley and The Wailers during their sessions at the Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica. However, the song was not released at that time and remained buried in the archives until its eventual release in 1992. The original recording of the song was produced by Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, and was intended for release on the band's Burnin' album.

In the years following the original recording, Bob Marley and The Wailers became international superstars, thanks in part to the success of their album, Exodus. As a result, Chris Blackwell decided to shelve Iron Lion Zion, along with several other recordings from the Burnin' sessions, in favor of more recent material.

It wasn't until almost twenty years later, in 1992, that the song was dusted off and given a new lease on life. The newly remixed version of the song was produced by Bob Marley's son, Stephen, and became an instant hit upon its release. The song was later included in the posthumous album, Natural Mystic: The Legend Lives On, which was a collection of some of Bob Marley's greatest hits.

Lyrical Elements of Iron Lion Zion

Iron Lion Zion is a song that speaks to the inner spirit within each one of us. The lyrics are a reflection of Bob Marley's own personal experience, as well as his philosophy on life. Each line of the song has a deeper meaning and serves as an inspiration for those who need a reminder to keep going, even when faced with adversity.

The opening lines of the song set the tone for what is to come: "I'm on the rock and then I check a stock / I have to run like a fugitive to save the life I live." The lyrics are a reference to Bob Marley's battles with cancer and the constant fear of persecution due to his political views. Despite these challenges, Bob Marley remained defiant and chose to sing about his strength and resilience.

The chorus of the song goes, "I am on the rock and then I check a stock / I have to run like a fugitive to save the life I live / I'm gonna be Iron like a Lion in Zion / I'm gonna be Iron like a Lion in Zion." The lyrics signify Marley's determination to overcome adversity and emerge as a stronger individual. The words "Iron Lion" represent the inner strength that lies within every one of us.

The verses of the song are packed with spiritual and religious references. For example, Marley sings about the "Falling Babylon" and "Jah Jah sitting on the throne again." These are allusions to Bob Marley's Rastafarian faith and the belief that Babylon represents the corrupt system that oppresses the people. The song promotes the idea that people have the power to overcome the forces of corruption and oppression if they have courage and faith.

Musical Elements of Iron Lion Zion

Iron Lion Zion is a quintessential reggae song, with a catchy rhythm that combines elements of ska, rocksteady, and dub. The song features a prominent bassline, which is a characteristic of most Bob Marley songs. The guitar riffs are simple, yet memorable, and the drum beat is infectious.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the song is the use of harmonies. The chorus of the song is sung in a three-part harmony, which gives it a gospel-like quality. The harmonies are a tribute to Bob Marley's love for soul and R&B music, which he often incorporated into his reggae songs.

The production of the song is also noteworthy, as it features a blend of contemporary and traditional reggae sounds. The use of horns, for example, gives the song a vintage feel, while the drum machines and synthesizers add a modern twist.

What Iron Lion Zion Means to Fans

Iron Lion Zion is a song that has resonated with fans of Bob Marley's music for several reasons. First, it's a reminder of Bob Marley's musical legacy and his contribution to the reggae genre. Second, the song's lyrics are uplifting and inspiring, and serve as a source of motivation for those who face challenges in their lives.

The song also demonstrates Bob Marley's unwavering belief in the power of the individual. He believed that each person had the ability to overcome obstacles and emerge victorious. In this way, Iron Lion Zion acts as a symbol of hope and reminds us that we are stronger than we think.


Iron Lion Zion is a song that has stood the test of time and remains one of Bob Marley's most beloved creations. Its combination of uplifting lyrics, infectious rhythm, and spiritual message has resonated with fans of reggae around the world. The song's journey from the archives to become a hit speaks to Bob Marley's enduring legacy and influence on popular music.

Perhaps the most significant message of the song is that we all have an Iron Lion within us, waiting to be unleashed. It's a reminder that we are capable of achieving greatness if we have the courage and determination to do so. Life presents us with many challenges, but with the right mindset and attitude, we can emerge victorious, just like the Iron Lion in Zion.