Christopher Brewer/Shutterstock

Christopher Brewer/Shutterstock

Last summer, in an effort to escape the crush of the city and get some writing done, I took a teaching job in Santa Cruz, California. Much like the Donner Party, I knew that my fortunes lay in the West. But on the writing front it ended up being a spectacularly unproductive period, and I spent my afternoons reading Raymond Carver stories on the beach and contemplating the troublingly elaborate hole-digging operations that children were carrying out.

However, a fortuitous thing occurred that is relevant to our purposes here. A few nights before heading to Big Sur I got into a conversation with someone at a bar called Ye Olde Watering Hole. Like most people in the area he showed a provincial pride in the coastal landscape, but he went further in giving me a crude classification of locations I should or should not visit. The Esalen Institute at 1:00 a.m.: “very Irie.”  Arroyo Seco: “extremely Irie (though theft is on the rise there and he’d had some “not very Irie experiences recently.”)  Drinks on the back porch of the Post Ranch Inn: “Irie,” though the prices: “not Irie, so just get one.” It’s an infectious way of viewing the world, and I began to suspect that “decidedly un-Irie” was the best way to describe the busy work attached to the teaching job.

In this spirit I have conscripted the help of writer Leigh Gallagher to provide you with a 100% Irie playlist of the finest reggae – our small gesture to correct the excesses of my Big Sur travel guide. Trust us, this is the good stuff. —Michael Schapira

Dawn Penn –  “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)”

Big Youth – “Screaming Target”

The Blood Sisters – “Ring My Bell”

Sister Nancy – “Bam-Bam”

Slim Smith and the Gaylads – “You Don’t Care”

The Congos – “Ark of the Covenant”

Lee “Scratch” Perry – “Rainy Night Dub”

U-Roy – “Chalice in the Palace”

Hortense Ellis – “I’m Still in Love”

Cecile Campbell – “Whisper to Me”

Lorna Bennett – “Breakfast in Bed (Riddim Mix)”

Horace Andy – “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”

Ken Parker – “Count Your Blessings”

The Soulettes – “A Deh Pon Dem”

Phyllis Dillon – “One Life to Live”

Pat Kelly – “Queen Majesty”

Prince Buster – “Take it Easy”

Dub Specialist – “Banana Walk”

Ruddy Thomas & Trinity – “Loving Pauper/Judgment Time”

Alton Ellis – “Inside My Soul”

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