London Calling Lyrics - The Clash



Review The Song (49)


London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared, and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls
London calling, now don't look to us
Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain't got no swing
'Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing

[Chorus 1:]
The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
'Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river

London calling to the imitation zone
Forget it, brother, you can go it alone
London calling to the zombies of death
Quit holding out, and draw another breath
London calling, and I don't wanna shout
But while we were talking, I saw you nodding out
London calling, see we ain't got no high
Except for that one with the yellowy eyes

[Chorus 2: x2]
The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error, but I have no fear
'Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river

Now get this

London calling, yes, I was there, too
An' you know what they said? Well, some of it was true!
London calling at the top of the dial
After all this, won't you give me a smile?
London calling

I never felt so much alike [fading] alike alike alike





Writer: STRUMMER, JOE / JONES, MICK / SIMONON, PAUL / HEADON, TOPPER
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group



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Thanks to SDC for submitting London Calling Lyrics.
Last line meaning.... | Reviewer: Stro Jummer | 6/19/13

To clear up any confusion over the last line.

Firstly, as it appears here, it's wrong. The last word is not 'alike' but is in fact two words 'a-like'. It is taken from a song called 'Singing the Blues' which was a 50's number one single for London Rock n' Roll star Tommy Steele.

Steele sang the song with heavy inflections so the line sounded like he was singing 'I never felt a-more a-like a-singing the blues'.

This is evidenced by the fact Strummer often completed the lyric when The Clash played live, and he sang 'I never felt a-more a-like a-singing the blues' at the end of live performances of London Calling. There is some suggestion that he cut it short on the recording for copyright reasons.

Tommy Steele was called the British Elvis, which also ties in with the cover of the London Calling album, which as you will all know is an homage to an Elvis Presley album cover. The cover art of the single also refelcts the 50's Rock n' roll theme with two teenagers listening to records which include The Beatles, Elvis, The Sex Pistols, The Clash and Bob Dylan, in a 50's art style.

With the full lyric restored, the last line makes much more sense. The political and social backdrop to London Calling was of a City on the edge, and the lyrics were a commentary on what Strummer saw going on around him, enough to make him want to sing the blues ...

What a shame people can neither read nor listen | Reviewer: Anonymous | 11/10/12

To all the Beatles fans : the song actually lashes at the "Beatlemania" which was created by frantic fanatics, shouting so loud at the concerts that no-one could hear the music, and not at the Beatles. So, to all of you Beatlemaniacs who burn with indignation at the slightest hint of a criticism and jump to defend the Beatles' honour, please put your own house in order and learn to read...

Zombies of Death! | Reviewer: Kattikins | 7/12/12

What fantstics lyrics! "London calling to the zombies of death
Quit holding out, and draw another breath" sound like all of us at the moment under the tight squeeze of wondering where our next £ is coming from. We are the Zombies going to work, taking kids to school week in week out! This song was so well written it reflects today.

"Phoney Beatlemania" is not a dig at the Beatles | Reviewer: Anonymous | 1/14/12

I'm pretty sure that "Phoney Beatlemania" refers to the musical "Beatlemania", which ran from 1977 to 1979 (it "bit the dust" in 1979, the year "London Calling" was recorded). It's tagline was "not the Beatles, but an incredible simulation".

Riots not a protesT | Reviewer: Steve | 8/21/11

What nonsense. Smashing up the shops of small businessmen who work 18 hours a day to scrape a living, and stealing their stock is NOT a protest over the government. Its greedy, violent, selfish consumerism - which is what the Clash were protesting against!

Clash | Reviewer: Phil MiMuffin | 8/12/11

When there was so much talent around in England, and there was a LOT of talent compared to the piss poor platic rapper pop star shite today, the Clash had something to say. Not one of the best bands this country has ever produced, but a very important band.

London Riots | Reviewer: Dylan | 8/11/11

Well if there was ever a song that summed up the August 2011 riots across Britain it is this! London calling to the faraway towns references how London started the riots and then other cities such as Manchester and Birmingham then began to join in these riots, now war is declared and battle come down shows how the working classes hated the co-alition govt and then decided to fight back! This song should be the theme song for those riots, it's spooky! :)

Some people drive me crazy | Reviewer: Anonymous | 7/28/11

At what point does this song have a go at the Beatles.Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust is aimed at people trying to stir up the same kind of mania around bands that don't deserve it unlike the Beatles who did deserve it.As Joe Strummer, who was a fan , new only too well.

no title | Reviewer: Zlash | 7/28/11

The thing about the punk culture is that it actually had something to say. What ruined it was the reckless and wild abandon whilst saying it.

Would you consider going out and coming back home covered in someone else's gob a good time? What a great way to send out a message and then stop people from actually hearing it.

Punk killed itself. It was pathetic. And what irritates me most of all about it, is that under all that gob, slime, and filth, was a culture that had something insightful to say. What a fucking waste.

I love the Clash | Reviewer: Wendy H | 5/30/11

"A nuclear error" makes more sense now after the Fukushima meltdown. Why can't anyone on here see that some music just like any other art form borders on prophecy. "The sun's zoomin' in"- global warming... "the wheat is growin' thin" global food shortages. To me this meaning is obvious. All of the nuclear plants which are built near or on earthquake faults should be shut down. What punk is, is a kind of protest/ activist idea. I am from San Francisco, so I am used to protest. I love the Clash, and don't really care if any of you 'get it'. What's in and what's hot these days basically mostly sucks ass. Have a nice Memorial Day..

What the hell? | Reviewer: Shadow | 5/16/11

This shit doesnt make any damn sense. Why in the hell do bands like this always talk crap about the Beatles? The Beatles are a grea band and Punk Rock evolved from their type of music! If the Beatles were never around,this music probably woudnt either. I wish people would stop talkig crap about the Beatles-and not everyone who listens to them is a hippie!

Legendary stuff | Reviewer: glis | 11/22/10

This song was written when punk was slowly losing its touch so you know, probably the whole thing just blends to that, his tone is very sarcastic if you notice, he makes a lot of references and all, the lyrics are smart and I like to believe beatlemania isnt what we think hes saying I thinks its just a synechdoche for popular culture especially comers goers as the punk movement showed to be. Big worry for them obviously especially when they were struggling quarreling with the producers or whatever all the time about this album

great song | Reviewer: john cahill | 11/11/10

londons calling , is just a great song , no more no less , why take a swipe at , the holy four , as you put it , they also wrote some great songs , get over this oh aint we so different , blah blah bullshit ,and admit the fact , that no one gives a flying fuck , anymore cos no one did then , its just guys having fun playing music , go and empty the dustbin another way , its all been said years ago , and like i said , so fucking what

london calling, I think I'll hang up!! | Reviewer: Anonymous | 7/11/10

First, i can't understand the lyrics
Second They don't make sense
Third what does the last line mean? ( A reward will be given who comes up with anything that makes sense
fourth the song has a great hook,

A few notes from an ancient Londoner | Reviewer: Bollocky Long | 1/26/10

There's quite a lotta cobblers flying around here. First of all, and definitely, it's 'error' not 'era', for several reasons (quite apart from the sleeve notes). First is that only arty-farty intellectuals used 'era' in London-speak around that time. This the Clash most emphatically were not. Next, by the time we'd finished with Windscale, Three-Mile Island and Doctor Strangelove, 'nuclear error' was in the wind, all over the place, and the buzz was that the Russkies weren't going to nuke London direct but drop one in the North Sea, creating the tidal surge up the Thames that's 30 years overdue anyway, and flooding most of the place. Living 'by the river' in those days meant that you were working class - it was the East End before the Yuppies rebuilt the riverside, the docks area - typically enough, tough-guys, tarts, loadsa immigrants from all over, good craigh, good music, great if you could hack it. Now it's Londonistan, a Moslem enclave, pretty much under shariah law - wonder what Strummer's acerbic tongue would have had to say about that. Forget all the intellectualising for meaning - the song, like much of punk, is about punk. It's a wakeup, referencing WW2 and atom bombs for the metaphorical impact of punk and to express the force of their contempt for all that had gone before, including the Holy Four, who were just a boy band singing girly songs until they discovered acid, when they became just the kind of pretentious crap that punk detests. Hence the reference to 'cupboard' - people used to shut themselves in cupboards when they did too much dope and couldn't handle it. Basically, the whole song is 'Punk's here, It's an explosion, pseuds and posers take cover, We don't don't care if we die coz there's No Future (where did that come from, now....?). 'We ain't got no swing' is a dib in the eye for Dire Straits who, however unjustly, became the Yuppie (therefore dire enemy) anthem-mongers. And so on. Get angry, folks, we need the Clash again in this sea of self-regarding dross that is modern music. But don't get all cerebral about it. Last time I left the post-Clash Paradiso in Amsterdam I was covered in spit, and so was the whole mosh pit. Puink died with CD - thnk about it.


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