Fight, Flight or Dance?

“Doobie-doo run, run, run…”

Unlike most pop music, the soul jam

Running Away“, from the 70s, kicks off with a musical hook –

“Doobie-doo run, run, run”

3 words; 2 that aren’t words and one that is, is repeated 3 times, casually hiding its poignant message.

The woman chants the hook about 8 times before she tells us, in verse, why she’s running.

Then the song once again breaks the rules of pop music. The hook that started in the intro continues through both verses and right up to the bridge of the song.

Although the song is uptempo, once you stop dancing long enough to listen – you’ll come to realize the hook is actually haunting – as it tells the story of life and our response to it. 

“Fight or flight”,  the reaction that presents itself in our intimate relationships as well as casual activities.

Allegedly, Walter Bradford Cannon, Harvard Professor of Physiology coined the term to describe an action humans will take in response to painful or scary experience – kind of heady but not when you listen to Roy Ayers Ubiquity put that theory to a funky beat…

“Doobie-doo, run, run, run”

There are actually 2 verses in the whole 7 minute song. The woman’s verse and the man’s verse.

First the woman complains,

“hey, I believe in lovin’ but I am running away now… ’cause you’ve been mean to me. And I’ve been good to you and I’ve been oh so true – hey ya aha ha”

It almost sounds as if she’s laughing at him.

Then the man complains to her,

“You don’t spend the time when I’m in need.  We don’t love each other like we used to do. Maybe I’ll be back another day. You don’t do the things you used to do; running running far away. “

Then he repeats, several times until the fade to the bridge,

“yes, I’m running away.”

During the bridge which serves as almost a 3 minute timeout, both the man and the woman are silent.

Maybe they decided to dance. No one can argue and dance. Not even if they’re dancing the Tango.

After the musical interlude the woman returns singing,

“Doobie-doo, run, run, run.”

And instead of singing the verses separately the man and woman sing their respective verses at each other. This time it’s as if they’re arguing.

But then something awesome happens even if only briefly.

They  both admit their vulnerabilities to each other…

She sings,

“can’t you see I need ya?”

He sings,

 “can’t you see I need ya?”

They repeat it twice but, they don’t hear each other.

So she returns to chanting,

“Doobie-doo run, run, run”

and he answers,

“Yes I’m running away.”

Cannon first published the physiological mechanism  that leads to “fight or flight” in 1932.

Maybe it’s time we add one more function to that phrase —

LISTEN.