Buffalo Soldier (song)

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"Buffalo Soldier"
Single by Bob Marley & The Wailers
from the album Confrontation
Released 1983
Recorded 1978
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. 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 inspired off of the chorus from 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 history of litigation connected to the similarity or why Bob Marley used that melody for the chorus.[2]

The song has been recorded by many other 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 thought African Americans' hair felt and looked like a buffalo's pelt.[4][5] The name was embraced by the troops, who were well acquainted with "the buffalo's fierce bravery and fighting spirit".[4] 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.[4]

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".

The Japan national rugby union team made a parody of the song called "Japanese Soldier" for their size disadvantaged team at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Japanese Soldier Lyrics:

Japanese Soldier, Japanese Soldier

Mainichi Tsukareta (Tired every day), Mainichi Tsukareta

Akashiro Jersey (Red and white jersey), Akashiro Jersey

Play for our country, Play for our country [6]


  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. ^ a b c 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 
  6. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF3kTCnlCLQ 00:43

External links[edit]