Each One Teach One is a very positive and enjoyable tune even when it’s not being messed about with by Augustus Pablo, but when he’s at the controls it’s all the better.
The tune’s real strength lies in the listener being able to pick up on the fact that the vocal track can be heard throughout. It is because this track, as anodyne as it may seem, contains so many allusions to the milestones of life that it is, quite simply, astounding.
The organ riff at the song’s start is a fanfare, but a fanfare to what? I would suggest the awakening of a thus far unformed mind beginning to crystallise, it being a paralinguistic/musical utterance. “Tomorrow may just be the same,” comes the first properly audible line of the song. The emergence of an understanding of causality in infancy is conjured up from the recesses of one’s mind.
Now it is important to bear in mind that the song is a, perhaps unconscious, musical depiction of the growth and maturity of a person’s mind. The emphasised, obvious vocal passages (“Keep us down…”), in their simple way, represent different generational stages of life, with the elderly mindset represented by the vocal at Each One’s end imploring for the help of some kind of deity just to understand its own condition.
The people who produced this smoked a lot of dope, and one is given to brooding about such matters when one has misted the mind with smoke. It may be wise, when listening to this tune, to proceed according to the example of the musicians. Either that, or harness the imagination to its fullest, I suppose…
Either way, throughout this track we are taken through the various different, emerging and dominant themes in one’s life. “I don’t know why some people have to keep us down,” sings the voice of adolescence, and so it goes.
But the vocal line is there, barely, almost impossible to detect without headphones. And its lyrics tell the tale of one’s struggle against the forces of injustice, their abstract isolation from context in the end taking on a mystical significance as the tune implores “I don’t know why…No…Don’t know, yeah…”
And do any of us? Do any of have any idea of what it’s all for? Of why we’ve developed the way we have, and are even able to ascribe such meanings to what is after all, just a pop song with the words turned down and some echo turned up? To what's nothing more than a collection of sound waves?
It’s astonishing when one gets a sense of the scale of how little we know, especially when it comes through dub.