Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“Rockin’ in Baghdad”: Another Missed Opportunity for “Irony”

Speaking of old songs that take on a whole new meaning when considered against a modern geopolitical context (see previous post about Cat Stevens), Capitol released a 45 in 1957 that featured a B-side – “Rockin’ in Baghdad” – that I very well could have imagined playing in the background during the military invasion of Iraq’s capital in 2003:

“Rockin’ in Baghdad”     Jerry Reed     1957

It would appear that virtually no one during the initial occupation of Iraq – aside from a college student named Ken – seemed aware of this groundbreaking Middle-Eastern-meets-rockabilly-rave-up written by upstart singer and guitar picker, Jerry Reed.

Jerry Reed 45Over in Baghdad in the burning sand
We’ve got a new kinda rhythm that’s real cool and
They put a beat to the rhythm of their ancient land
Then what do they get, a crazy style
And it’s driving old Baghdad wild
They’re rockin’ in Baghdad, having a ball
Jumping in Baghdad, climbing the wall

Baghdad’s rocking tonight
Doing that boogie up right

They’re going like mad, a-rocking in old Baghdad
A long time ago back in old Baghdad
The dance of the seven veils was the fad
The sultan got hip to these rhythm and blues
And now he’s got a pair of rocking shoes
His harem is a-bopping to a boogie beat
They even got the camels hopping down the street
A snake charmer threw his little flute away
Got a guitar now and he’s learning to play
Something’s really happened in old Baghdad
‘Cause they’re doing that boogie

And they’re going like that
Baghdad’s rocking tonight

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