I Hear a Symphony

Evening, gang.


(I’m thinking this may be a bit of a weird one, but I hope you’ll consider indulging me for
a few minutes.)

So, while I’m definitely a big fan of Diana Ross and the Supremes, this piece isn’t meant to reference that 1965 classic. (Actually, it’s safe to say that it really has nothing to do with it.)

Instead, and in the broader view, when it comes to song titles, lyrics, symphonies and odds and ends from other mediums, there’s just something about music that seems to tie
it all together.

Years and years ago, while driving across Pennsylvania with a buddy of mine, a rock and roll classic blared loudly from my beat up AM/FM radio. As we sang our collective hearts out, we both knew every word. I quickly discovered, though, that while my friend clearly knew every single one of the song’s lyrics, he misnamed the title.

Honest mistake, I remember thinking; I mean Symphony for the Devil might even sound a bit  better. That’s more than 40 years ago, and I never forgot it.

Would-be revisionist history aside, though, Sympathy for the Devil (originally released in December 1968) is among the Rolling Stones’ finest. And in terms of the crossover odds and ends referenced earlier, the song’s driving rhythm lends itself to a myriad of possibilities.

Just ask Michael Mann.

Yes, Michael Mann, the director of classic TV series like “Miami Vice” and “Police Story” and the auteur of such films as Thief and Heat, whose works use music as a pivotal complement to the story.

Wait. Let’s rethink that last statement. The music not only complements those stories, it’s the key ingredient in so much of each project’s success.

Consider “The Jericho Mile” (Emmy Award-winning TV movie, 1979), for example. Take a convicted murderer – a “lifer,” in fact – and endow him with God-given speed. Yeah, lots of speed, across great distances.

And take him from running on a prison yard track, riddled with holes and torn up grass, all the while wearing a ratty old sleeveless sweatshirt and high-top sneakers. Take that same inmate, one who despite those poor running conditions and inadequate running gear, can still manage a sub-four-minute mile.

Then give him a college track coach, turned jailhouse mentor/trainer, who knows how to transform all that anger, self doubt and regret into an Olympic-caliber miler. (Lead actor Peter Strauss, then just 32 years old, was turning in very fast trial times – some say just north of 4:30 – during his preparation for the role.)

Add a soundtrack that includes Rolling Stones’ staples “Sympathy for the Devil” and “No expectations,” and you’ve got that perfect combination of guts, heart and ambition – all coming to life on screen, accompanied by a song that seems tailormade for such feats of grandeur. (I dare you not to feel compelled to head out for a quick run, once Mann’s masterpiece brings it all together.)

By the way, the TV movie was shot entirely on location at Folsom maximum-security Prison, Folsom, California, amongst the actual prison population.

If you haven’t seen it, please make time for it; full versions of the program are available on YouTube and other select streaming services.

Well, it’s approaching the midnight hour here on the East Coast. And by the time we all wake up tomorrow, Sir Michael Philip “Mick” Jagger will have turned 80 years young.

Find your stride, my friends. The soundtrack of our lives is all cued up and ready to go.

Until soon,


@Copyright 2023 by John L. Fischer

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