Stir It Up

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"Stir It Up"
Single by Johnny Nash
from the album I Can See Clearly Now
B-side "Cream Puff"
Released March 31, 1972
Format 7" single
Recorded 1967
Genre Reggae
Length 2:58
Label Epic
Writer(s) Bob Marley
Johnny Nash singles chronology
"Stir It Up"
"I Can See Clearly Now"
"Stir It Up"
Single by Bob Marley & The Wailers
from the album Catch a Fire
Released 1973
Format 7"
Recorded 1972
Label Wail'n Soul'm
Writer(s) Bob Marley
Producer(s) Bob Marley and the Wailers
Bob Marley & The Wailers singles chronology
"Freedom Time"
"Stir It Up"
"This Train"

"Stir It Up" is a song composed by Bob Marley in 1967, written for his wife Rita, and first made popular by Johnny Nash. Nash's recording hit the top 15 in both Britain and America in 1973.

When Marley returned to Jamaica from the United States in 1967, The Wailers started their own label, Wail'n Soul'm records, and released their first independent single, "Freedom Time", backed with "Bend Down Low". "Nice Time", "Hypocrites", "Mellow Mood", "Thank You Lord", and "Stir It Up" were all recorded in the same year.

The label folded shortly after and Marley began writing for American singer Johnny Nash. On Nash's I Can See Clearly Now album, he used members of The Wailers and recorded several Marley songs: "Stir It Up," the follow-up single, "Comma Comma", "Guava jelly", and the Nash / Marley co-written ballad, "You Poured Sugar on Me". The track "(It Was) So Nice While It Lasted" received radio play.

The Wailers performed the song on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973 during their first trip to the UK.[1]

"Stir It Up" was Marley's first successful song outside Jamaica. Another song written by Bob Marley, "I Shot The Sheriff", was made a hit by Eric Clapton on the album 461 Ocean Boulevard, July 1974. Marley's first "own" international hit, "No Woman No Cry", was released on the Bob Marley and the Wailers album Live!, December 1975.

The Nash vinyl, 45 version of the song has appeared in CD format only once - TimeLife's Sounds of the Seventies: 1973 - Take Two CD. It includes several audio tracks that are not on the album version (e.g. the prominent vibraslap percussion), and some recorded at different levels, brass and strings in particular, which give the song a more recognizable sound, as it was this version that received radio play during the time the song was a hit, and not the album version. This was the version to receive radio play until the CD version was released. Other mixes eventually made it to vinyl 45 pressings, but thus far the original 45 mix still has not been released in an official digital version, other than the TimeLife CD.

Cover versions[edit]

  • In 1991, the song was covered by Dread Zeppelin on their second album 5,000,000.
  • In 1993, the song was covered by The Black Sorrows.
  • In 1993, the song was covered by Diana King for the 1993 movie Cool Runnings. The song also appears on the soundtrack album.
  • In 1993, the song was covered by Haddaway on his debut album Haddaway.
  • In 2009, The Fratellis covered the song for the compilation Island 50: 50 Years of Island Records.
  • In 2009, the song was used by K'naan and J. Period in their mixtape The Messengers, which was a tribute to Bob Marley. The version is called "Fatima / Stir It Up"

Live cover performances[edit]

  • Bob Marley's eldest children Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers have performed the song at several concerts. Their live version of the song appears on the concert DVD Marley Magic: Live In Central Park At Summerstage and Live Vol. 1.
  • The song was covered by The Jerry Garcia Band during several live performances, usually as a long jam with no lyrics.
  • O.A.R. has covered the song, almost always following the song "Night Shift."
  • Slightly Stoopid has made a cover of "Stir It Up" and they often play it during live performances.
  • The String Cheese Incident played the song a number of times throughout their 14-year career.
  • Widespread Panic has covered the song in numerous live performances over the years.
  • Gilberto Gil covered "Stir It Up" during many live performances in the 1990s, in a mixture of English and Portuguese. One such performance was captured on the Grammy award-winning album Quanta Live.
  • Dave Matthews Band has teased or partially played "Stir It Up" at least nine times live, as recently as 2013.


  1. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test (DVD). Warner Home Video. 2003.