The Clash – Train In Vain

I’ve always liked the Clash. Love the London Calling album and really started to listen to them when Combat Rock came out. I’ve never known much about them. This was the first song I ever knew by the Clash when I heard it on the radio in 1980.

They started off as a punk band but The Clash, unlike some other Punk bands, could really play and sing well…and above all else write some great songs. This song was written by

The song was released in 1979 and reached #23 on the Billboard Charts. It is listed by Rolling Stone Magazine at 298 in the top 500 songs of all time. Train in Vain was written by Mick Jones and Joe Strummer.

From songfacts about Train In Vain.

On the original vinyl copy of the album “Train Is Vain” isn’t listed on the tracklisting on the sleeve. The story is that the song was recorded for an NME promotional flexi-disc once the London Calling sessions were done, and the flexi-disc idea then fell through, leaving the song with no home. The band hastily tacked the song onto the end of the album just before vinyl pressing, but the sleeve had already been designed and there was no time to add it to the tracklisting. The only clue of it’s existence is in the run-out groove on Side 4, where the name is carved into the vinyl. On all subsequent releases (including the CD copy) “Train In Vain” is included on the tracklisting on the sleeve.




Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

19 thoughts on “The Clash – Train In Vain”

  1. One of my favorite groups from that era- or ever. Different days- their second album came out in the US before their first album did. I had read about The Clash [and The Jam} way before I ever heard them. And as you know it wasn’t like there was a youtube to go to so you could check them out. The first time I listened to London Calling I thought the side should be over- and there it was “Train In Vain” at the end.

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    1. Do you consider them punk? When I think of punk…I think of a bunch of guys barely playing their instruments, not being able to sing or trying…which was some of the point…The Clash didn’t fit that to me.
      This song is a great pop/rock song…with attitude.

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      1. LOL funny you asked that I just put on their first album and I thought – I know they are kind of classified as punk but I would consider them kind of a hybrid of- rock- punk- new wave- they were very popular London Calling went platinum in the US- Punk groups didn’t sell albums like that because their appeal would be limited.

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      2. I guess it depends on what the person classifies as Punk… Pop music can mean many things from Frank Sinatra to The Beatles… They were a hybrid you are right….a good one.

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      3. I don’t know if you are a Green Day fan or not- they are ok- but I think of them as – punk – for people who really can’t handle the real thing… The Ramones- punk? I thought so when they came out but I don’t think so now- kind of like The Clash.

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      4. I would not go out hunting down Green Day records but some I’ve liked… The Ramones were to me hard/bubblegum rock…I mean that in the best way. I love the Ramones…

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      5. Another is Elvis Costello- in 1978 at first I thought of him as in the punk/new wave- and if someone would have said “In 20 years he will make a record with Burt Bacharach I would have laughed but when I listen to those first few albums today–yes i can hear see the guy who wrote and sang Alision- working with Bacharach.

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      6. I saw The Clash on their last tour- the night after I saw Elvis Costello at the same venue. I don’t think I will ever be able to top that.


      7. At the time there at least to me seemed no hint that they were about to end- I am sure the band members knew it was about over though. ..

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      8. What took me by surprise also was a few years later I am at the local record store and I see a new Clash album- Cut The Crap… I of course bought it. I had no idea they were making an album of course it was without Mick Jones and well the title was wrong for the most part it was crap. Although This Is England was a great song.

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      9. Glynn Johns worked with them and said Joe was great to get along with but Mick Jones was very distance and grouchy at that time… I think during combat rock….

        I’ve bought those kind of albums before… there is a reason you never heard of it.

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      10. Larry Kirwan who hosts Celtic Crush- has lived in NYC for years and tells Joe Strummer stories a few times a year- he always talks about how Joe was a great great fella. He was never big star Joe Strummer of The Clash- but just this guy named Joe- who had an encyclopedic knowledge of rock and roll and its history.

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  2. Great tune! It was the first tune I heard by them on radio and first one by them that I really took to, although I knew them a bit because a high school buddy was a big fan of them early on and I heard some of their earliest material he bought as import. They were punk in attitude indeed, but had a talent both for writing and playing which some of their contemporaries lacked

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    1. I don’t know much about their history…which I always like knowing for some reason. Listening is never just enough for some reason for me. I’m going to read more about them. I do know their music and have always liked them. A very good song.


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