August 3, 2021

THE CLASH: The story behind the 1979 song “London Calling”

The Clash – “London Calling”

Four decades have passed since the market launch of “London Calling”, the third album of THE CLASH, one of the most iconic punk rock records of the 70s and 80s, with more than 2 million copies sold across the globe.

Recorded in studios Wessex from London, where bands like the SEX PISTOLS Y PRETENDERS, and released in December 1979, the first single from the album entitled as the album was a success, reaching position 11 in the UK charts and sounding as the official song of the London 2012 Olympics.

THE CLASH describes the stark reality of late 1970s London in “London Calling” (London calling), a topic in which its title refers to the message used by the channel’s announcers BBC during the Second World War as start of your programs: “This is London calling …”.

Joe Strummer and theirs used their usual vindictive tone wrapped in a punk atmosphere with an air of reggae, something that was actually a novelty compared to the previous sounds of the band.

The letter of “London Calling” recounts the precarious situation of the band at that time. It is a cry for “help” to London society and to the whole world. By then THE CLASH they were in debt and without a manager to represent them. In addition, the continuous discussions with his record company about the format of the album only made his relationship with her worse.

But the lyrics not only spoke of the situation of the band, it also reflects the concern of Strummer a repeat of the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster of early 1979 and a possible overflow of the River Thames that would flood the center of the British capital.

“London Calling” it is the sound of the street. It could be the soundtrack to any large city with unemployment, crime or drug problems.

The success and repercussion of the song was so great that it has come to sound in renowned films such as “London boulevard” Y “Billy Elliot”.

“London Calling” lyrics

London calling out to distant towns
Now the war has been declared and the battle goes down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the closet, you guys and girls

London calling, now don’t look at us
Fake Beatlemania has bit the dust
London calling, look we don’t have half a host
Except for the ring on that thing, the baton

The ice age is coming, the sun is coming
collapse is expected, wheat begins to run out
engines stop running but i’m not afraid
‘Cause London is drowning and I live by the riverside

London calling the knockoff zone
forget it brother you can go to it alone
London calling the zombies of death
stop holding back and breathe another exhale

London calling, and I don’t want to scream
But since we’re talking I saw you nod
London calling, look we ain’t got no height
except for the one with the yellow eyes

The ice age is coming, the sun is coming
Engines stop running, wheat is running out
a nuclear bug, but i’m not afraid
because London is drowning, and I live by the riverside

Now understand this

London calling, yeah I was there too
And do you know what they said?
Well some of it was true

London calling to the top of the broadcast
After all this
Won’t you smile at me?
London calling

I’ve never felt so the same, the same, the same, the same