Listening to rock music on Spotify in Totnes gym and a sudden flashback to Palestine and liberating rock

Earlier this week, I took out a subscription to Spotify, the Swedish music streaming provider. It is the world’s largest such provider with over 365 million monthly active users. I wanted to listen to more music in the gym.

I am a member of the Church of Gymism for the past decade raising weights to heaven – sometimes called pumping iron. Before cycling off to the modest size gym in Totnes, I downloaded Rock anthems from the 1960s, 1970s, classical music etc.

Two songs from the 1960s selection came through the earphones in succession – Summer in the City by The Loving Spoonful and Jumpin’ Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones.

We have probably all suddenly found ourselves transported into the past with a vivid memory of an event connected with a song. This occurred in the gym.

I recalled being in Palestine around 20 years ago giving five days of workshops to Palestinian activists, mostly in their 20s, campaigning to end the Israel’s army (IDF) occupation.

I told them in the first minute of the meeting: “Throwing stones at Israeli soldiers or using sling shots shows a lack of imagination. You are following their rules. They have bullets. You have stones.  They can shoot to kill or wound. A bullet can travel 1000 metres in a second. How far can you throw a stone? 50 metres?

I reminded then that their parents have often told me they find themselves sick with worry every time their sons confront the soldiers. They do not know if their children will return home, get shot. killed, beaten up or arrested.

“Israeli government refuses to recognise the state of Palestine. It is going to take creative imagination to arouse international public concern for the world to recognise the decades of  hardship of Palestinians under occupation and also bring about meaningful change.

“You have four primary areas to explore and expand and all four matter.

1. Imaginative, non-violent political action/campaigns.

2. The Arts.

3. Deepening wisdom in institutions – education, religion, health, society and environment.

4. Deepening the power of the Palestinian community. 

“Action speaks louder than stones.”

The workshops got underway.

I told the participants.

“Israeli government has to take immense responsibility but even a liberated Palestine still has much to address within the country like every other country.”

We had vibrant meetings.

A Joy Ride

At the end of the day, I went to the home of a Palestinian family to eat, talk and sleep. About 11 pm one evening on a hot summer’s night, four Palestinians asked me if I wanted to join them in a car ride. In a small rusty car, we drove around at speed the empty streets of Bethlehem with windows wound down and rock music blaring out from the car.

Two songs from the 60s came on. Summer in the City by the Loving Spoonful and Jumpin’ Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones. We were familiar with some of the lyrics and started singing as we zoomed around visiting friends of these Palestinian guys.

I had a flash of that evening in the Totnes gym when I heard both songs consecutively via Spotify.

We were rockin’ in that battered car.

Lyrics of first two verses of Summer in the City.

Hot town, summer in the city

Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty

Been down, isn’t it a pity

Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half-dead

Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

 

But at night it’s a different world

Go out and find a girl

Come on, come on, and dance all night

Despite the heat, it’ll be alright

And babe, don’t you know it’s a pity

The days can’t be like the nights

In the summer, in the city

In the summer, in the city….

 

Lyrics of first two verses of Jumpin Jack Flash

I was born in a cross-fire hurricane

And I howled at my ma in the driving rain

But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas

But it’s all right. I’m Jumpin’ Jack Flash

It’s a gas! Gas! Gas

I was raised by a toothless, bearded hag

I was schooled with a strap right across my back

But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas

But it’s all right, I’m Jumpin’ Jack Flash

It’s a gas! Gas! Gas

 

I was drowned, I was washed up and left for dead

I fell down to my feet and I saw they bled

I frowned at the crumbs of a crust of bread

Yeah, yeah, yeah

I was crowned with a spike right thru my head

But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas

But it’s all right, I’m Jumpin’ Jack Flash…

I did not realise until I googled today the lyrics revealed a certain irony in the words for those who endure pain and experience precious times of going beyond the pain.

We punched the air when we got out of the car. For a few minutes, we transcended the tragic mundanity of the invasion of an army and violent civil resistance.

We were free of all that. We had a real taste of immediate freedom through jumpin’ out of our skin and a big loving spoonful of transcendence together in the car as we approached the midnight hour.

How cool is that?

Here are the links to the songs on Youtube

SUMMER IN THE CITY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwZdDyH9LLc

JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCMrXC8D05Q

From a concert in Texas, 1972. Mick Jagger is strutting the stage at his indefatigable and brazen best with great guitar from Mick Taylor.

ROCK ON!

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  • Summer in the city……what a wonderful song. My flashback is not as dramatic as yours Christopher. I remember dancing while it played in a Torquay night club. I was with Oliver from Canford School and was painfully in love with him. I feel fortunate that my teenage years were made richer with so much amazing music. I loved Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla’. He’s still performing and the band is as good as it ever was. And who can forget the first hearing of ‘Sergeant Pepper’?


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