Buffalo Soldier (song)

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"Buffalo Soldier"
Single by Bob Marley & The Wailers
from the album Confrontation
Released 1983
Recorded 1980
Genre Reggae
Length 4:17
Writer(s) Bob Marley & King Sporty
Bob Marley & The Wailers singles chronology
"Natural Mystic"
"Buffalo Soldier"
"Iron Lion Zion"
Confrontation track listing
"Chant Down Babylon"
"Buffalo Soldier"
"Jump Nyabinghi"

"Buffalo Soldier" is a reggae song written by Bob Marley and Noel "King Sporty" Williams from Marley's final recording sessions in 1980. It did not appear on record until the 1983 posthumous release of Confrontation, when it became one of Marley's best-known songs. The title and lyrics refer to the black U.S. cavalry regiments, known as "Buffalo Soldiers", that fought in the Indian Wars after 1866. Marley likened their fight to a fight for survival, and recasts it as a symbol of black resistance.[1]

The song's bridge, with the lyrics woe! yoe! yo!, is similar to the chorus of the Banana Splits' "The Tra-La-La Song", the 1968 theme from their TV show, written by Mark Barkan and Ritchie Adams. There has never been any litigation connected to the similarity.[2]

The song has been covered by many artists, including Cultura Profética (on their album Tribute to the Legend: Bob Marley), and Vanilla Ice (on his 2008 album Vanilla Ice Is Back!).[3]

The origin of the term "Buffalo Soldier" is theorized as given to black troops by Native Americans, who compared the soldiers with the buffalo's strength and tenacity, and possibly how they thought African Americans' hair felt and looked (like a bison).[4][5] Others claim it was in reference to how the soldiers tirelessly marched.[citation needed] In any case, the Buffalo Soldier's duties were settling railroad disputes, building telegraph lines, repairing and building forts, helping settlers find a place to live and protecting the settlers from Native Americans attacks.

In pop culture[edit]

The song is featured prominently in the 1990 film No Fear, No Die.

The song is referenced in the television show South Park, in the episode Medicinal Fried Chicken.


  1. ^ Black Heretics, Black Prophets: Radical Political Intellectuals - Bogues, Anthony, Page 198, via Google Books. Accessed 2008-06-28.
  2. ^ Adam Conner-Simons, "Picking Up What They're Laying Down," Gelf Magazine, July 24, 2007.
  3. ^ "ASIN: B001I1TU2Y". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  4. ^ National Park Service, Buffalo Soldiers (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on January 4, 2007, retrieved 2007-05-01 
  5. ^ Brief History (Buffalo Soldiers National Museum) (PDF), 2008, retrieved 2009-11-30 

External links[edit]