Since Musk’s takeover of Twitter has been confirmed, there has been a lot of chatter about free speech. Musk, we are told, describes himself as a ‘free speech maximalist’, and there are fears that he’ll have Twitter reinstate the accounts of Trump and other white supremacists.
But I’ve been thinking about Joe Strummer.
More specifically, I’ve been wondering why his ‘The Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll’ was popping into my head so often. It wasn’t a problem: getting an earworm of a song I like doesn’t bother me. But I wondered what was triggering it.
I can often work out why I get a song in my head. I knew, for example, why I often had The Clash’s ‘The Prisoner ' in my head through the summer. The words ‘The Prisoner ' are written on the whiteboard in our kitchen, along with the titles of the other serieses we’re watching.
And in fact I sing ‘The Prisoner’ every time I hang out the washing, owing to its line referring to ‘hanging out the washing and clipping coupons and generally being decent.’
It clicked today, though. You know how — if you’re an old-school album listener (or just old) like me — when you play an album, one track’s ending often triggers the expectation of the next? So that, when you hear a song in isolation, on a playlist or on the radio or something, and the wrong song plays next, it can be quite jarring?
The song before ‘The Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll’ on Rock Art and the X-Ray Style is ‘Techno D-Day’. Joe’s celebration of illegal raves ends with the line, ‘And this is about free speech!’
So it turns out my head was just playing the next song whenever the phrase came up.