Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen

I didn’t get into the Sex Pistols at the time they came out. They were not as big over here as they were in the UK. I did find them later on. I can’t say I’m a huge fan but I do recognize that the Ramones and Sex Pistols help start the Punk rock movement… and they stirred up the rock music industry when it needed stirring up.

This was originally called “No Future.” The band played it live and recorded a demo version with that title, but changed it when lead singer Johnny Rotten got the idea to mock the British monarchy.

The U.K. Parliament threatened to ban all sales of the single. Despite the controversy, as major retailers like Woolworth refused to sell “God Save The Queen,” the record was selling up to 150,000 copies a day.

“God Save the Queen” peaked at #1 on the NME charts, but only peaked at #2 on the UK Singles Charts right behind Rod Stewart’s  I Don’t Want To Talk About It. Many people have claimed since that 

It was released right before Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee though drummer Paul Cook has said it wasn’t written specifically for the Queen’s Jubilee. He claimed they weren’t aware of it at the time… it wasn’t a contrived effort to go out and shock everyone.

Johnny Rotten: “There are not many songs written over baked beans at the breakfast table that went on to divide a nation and force a change in popular culture.”

“You don’t write ‘God Save The Queen’ because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them, and you’re fed up with them being mistreated.”

From Songfacts

This song is about rebelling against British politics. A lot of young people felt alienated by the stifling rule of the old-fashioned royal monarchy, and the Queen (Queen Elizabeth), was their symbol.

“It was expressing my point of view on the Monarchy in general and on anybody that begs your obligation with no thought,” lead singer John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) told Rolling Stone. “That’s unacceptable to me. You have to earn the right to call on my friendship and my loyalty.”

The British national anthem is called “God Save The Queen.” This mocks it in a big way, which did not go over well with English royalty.

Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren released this to coincide with The Queen’s Silver Jubilee, a celebration commemorating her 25th year on the throne. The Sex Pistols and their fans detested the monarchy and this celebration.

The Queen’s Silver Jubilee took place on June 7, 1977. On that day, The Sex Pistols attempted to play this song from the Thames river, outside of Westminster Palace. It was a typical Malcolm McLaren promotional stunt, as they played up how the band was circumventing a “ban” by playing on the river instead of setting foot on ground. The performance never took place, as they were thwarted by authorities.

God Save The Queen

God save the Queen
The fascist regime,
They made you a moron
A potential H-bomb

God save the Queen
She ain’t no human being
There is no future
And England’s dreaming

Don’t be told what you want
Don’t be told what you need
There’s no future
No future
No future for you

God save the Queen
We mean it man
We love our Queen
God saves

God save the Queen
‘Cause tourists are money
And our figurehead
Is not what she seems

Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
All crimes are paid

When there’s no future
How can there be sin
We’re the flowers
In the dustbin
We’re the poison
In your human machine
We’re the future
You’re future

God save the Queen
We mean it man
We love our Queen
God saves

God save the Queen
We mean it man
There is no future
And England’s dreaming

No future no future no future for you
No future no future no future for me
No future no future no future for you
No future no future for me

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

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

45 thoughts on “Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen”

  1. To me the Sex Pistols were easy to like, and not take too seriously. Their music was catchy enough to sing along to. This song was particularly so. Some of the music and behavior they inspired in others was rubbish, but that’s the case with pretty much any trendsetter. I can’t believe how young they look in this video.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I noticed that…they were kids…when I was 11 or so when I finally found them…I was like what do you mean the old bands suck? ….Of course I didn’t know better and at that time I took it seriously until I woke up.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Never really gotten into The Sex Pistols and punk overall. And while I’m certainly no expert on the Ramones, I think I much prefer their music.

    To me, this particular tune looks like a deliberate effort to stir controversy. As a PR guy, I have to assume this was primarily done to get media attention. Evidently, the tactic worked.

    The UK Parliament and some retailers went right for the bait, calling for a ban or actually banning sales of the song. That’s the best way to ensure a tune becomes even more popular – just goes to show how much out of touch with reality they were!

    Lots of (younger) folks like nothing more than to rebel against the establishment. When I was a 13-year old, the line ‘Hey teachers, leave us kids alone,” was very attractive. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They knew how to market…very well. They were important in the way they brought back some raw rock into the rock scene again. But yea…kids ate it up at the time like they do a lot of bands but this one had a crusade that a lot of people jumped on….in America it didn’t last as long.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Anarchy is the UK is the other one I like…well Christian you don’t have many to pick from because they only made one album. It was their influence that carried them through.

        No question The Clash were much more talented…to me they were more of a rock band although they started off as punk.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Without a meaning-for-the-music-history bonus, this song wouldn’t be worth that much. Still, “Never Mind The Bollocks” is an above average album. “Holidays in the Sun” and “Anarchy in the U.K.” still convince me today.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, lots to think about them and the song. Obviously it was a blatant publicity-seeking device as the whole band rather was. But for what it is, it’s not bad and the album was fairly good for the genre. I have trouble comparing them to the Ramones because it’s rather apples and oranges. I think I like the Pistols music a little more but the Ramones kept at it unlike the Pistols. Ultimately both were important in shaking up the status quo on opposite sides of the ocean. The Sex Pistols were in repurcussions like a tiny imitation of the Beatles… they really got a lot of future stars changing their future goals and heading into music shops to start their own bands, many of whom did far more , far better, than the Sex Pistols.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Stranglers have long claimed a similar snub by the UK charts with “Golden Brown” (#2)… they claim both that sales were under-counted and the charts listed the 7″ and 12″ single separately whereas others at that time had the two lumped together for sales position.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Interesting. Was that a genuine mistake, or a conspiracy due to the druggy lyrics? With the Sex Pistols, the chart-compilers banned shops from selling their own records that week, and so any sales of the song from Virgin Records were null and void… Rod Stewart stayed top. It was clearly a fix, but we’ll never know if the discounted sales would have been enough for it to hit #1. I don’t love the song, but it would have made an historic chart-topper.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t get to hear this one for years (being as it was banned on the radio, as was their ground-breaking angry Anarchy In The UK), so I was underwhelmed when I did get to hear it, i still am, much prefer the Abba-nicking Pretty Vacant, Holiday In The Sun, and especially Anarchy In The UK, which was a seismic shift in pop music, and changed pop music. It spits venom still. Then they became cartoon parodies, fairly quickly, John Lydon moved to a serious band (PIL) and it all went tragically wrong. The Ramones and The Clash never had the commercial and cultural impact of The Sex Pistols in the UK during punk, though obviously they were bigger in the US and gained stature with time as New Wave. The Ramones were great fun, The Clash were always a bit too shouty and angry for me till the 80’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t get into punk until later but it never sweeped me along their path. Yes the Clash and The Ramones I liked…I was only 10 when the Sex Pistols came out and I took everything at face value…when they were downing the Beatles…it pissed me off lol…I didn’t know it was a show basically.

      Oh…I posted something on The Sweeney on Sunday and I was wondering if you ever watched that show?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I got to be honest I never liked The Sweeney much, though it was very popular 🙂 My tastes were more American-oriented, ironically – stuff like Centennial, Martian Chronicles, Dallas (it was a comedy! 🙂 ) and the blockbuster US movies that were wowing the box office in the late 70’s early 80’s 🙂 I’ll give it a read though to see if I have been too stuck in my ways 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. What was different about it was that it was gritty and realistic compared to the American cop shows at the time. They could get by with much more…I’m binge watching it now…I’m in the 4th and final season.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. True, it was definitely gritty! I was into Rockford Files, Harry O and The New Avengers when it came to police/spy dramas but I did watch The Professionals which was a sort of slightly less gritty later version of The Sweeney. The late John Thaw’s wife is Sheila Hancock and she’s a British TV icon, working from the late 50’s right up to date as she’s about to screen Great Canal Journies, real-life trips round Canals with Gyles Brandreth, comic, raconteur and former member of Parliament. Both are witty and smart 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The Rockford Files I did watch a lot of. I never saw the other show that John Thaw was in…which he is more known for…I need to check that one out.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I never got into the Sex Pistols but, I had a buddy in school that liked them. He talked about them, a lot. Wow. Old memory. I haven’t spoken to or seen Adam in YEARS.

    I learned about their being banned and dissed some years later. Some folks don’t appreciate their Queen being trashed. They are fascinating, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was never really into them either very much. They were big publicity hounds…but rock music needed a kick in the ass at the time.

      Like

    2. Oh speaking of punk…I have a Replacements song tomorrow but you won’t like it….it was on their 2 release and it’s punk…they started to move away from it after that.

      Like

      1. I’m going through their catalog… they had some great stuff. They had 3 great albums…the book… they could have been Keith Moons kids

        Like

      2. Oh my goodness…I would have to look that up. They have toured more in the 90s til now than they did before probably…just not as long of tours.

        Like

      3. No…they formed the band a year after he died. LOL…like I said before all came from dicey parents…one really did and ended up dying of natural causes at 35…organs just gave out…the rest are alive and well. They regrouped in 2013…two of them did and toured for a couple of years…. Back by un popular demand tour lol

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s