Tubthumping to Epictetus

Roel M. Hogervorst


Categories: blog Tags: 100DaysToOffload stoic music 1997

In 1997 the British band Chumbawamba dropped a banger on the dancefloors: ‘Tubthumbing’. They exclaimed that although they were knocked down, they would get up again.

Guitarist Boff Whaley told the Guardian that it was written about “the resilience of ordinary people”[1]. And in fact there might be many nuggets of wisdom in this song, let’s break it down and start with the chorus:

I get knocked down, but I get up again
You're never going to keep me down

The writers recognize that ‘the universe does not bow to our wishes, it does what it does’. It might knock us down, but they choose to get up again. Some things are in our power, most things are not. Choosing to get up again is in our power, getting knocked down is not in our control.

The writers quickly tackle our inescapable mortality and how we choose to spend our life:

Pissing the night away
He drinks a [whiskey, vodka, lager, cider] drink
He sings the songs that remind him of the good times
He sings the songs that remind him of the better times

What we do with our time is mostly up to us, we could spend time drinking and ruminate on good and better times. How much of our time we spend on this is up to us. We cannot change the past. We can learn from it, and therefore looking back is absolutely not bad. However the sentence ‘pissing the night away’ tells us that they might have spend too much time in drinking and looking back. The chorus brings us back to the here and know, the only thing we can control. And the writers tell us again that they even though they might get knocked down they will get up again. Affirming their control over the situation.


Youtube link

I am absolutely looking for more meaning where there is maybe none in this song. I want to practice a Stoic viewpoint and this is just lovely material for it. This song is quite will described on wikipedia [2]


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