Jam – In The City

As with the Buzzcocks…I had friends with Jam albums and that is how I found out about them.

This was their first single and introduction to the Jam and singer/guitarist and Jam songwriter Paul Weller. Weller wrote this song and borrowed the title from a Who single I’m A Boy with the B side In The City.

It was released in 1977 and peaked at #40 inn the UK Charts. This was their first Top 40 single and the beginning of their streak of 18 consecutive Top 40 singles. The single came off the album of the same name. The album peaked at #20 in 1977.

The song’s opening bassline re-appeared a few months later on the Sex Pistols’ single “Holidays in The Sun.” Weller had a fight with Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious in the Speakeasy Club over stealing the riff.

Paul Weller: “We had a different sort of birth to a lot of the bands, our contemporaries of that time. Because we’d been playing for five years – pubs and working men’s clubs and anywhere that would have us really. I’d been plating since I was 14, sort of semi-pro if you like. So I never got the thing about not turning your guitar.”

“I wrote this after I’d seen the Pistols and The Clash and I was obviously into my Who phrase. I just wanted to capture some of that excitement.” “It was a big tune for us. We’d open our set with it, we’d probably play it at the end and if we could get an encore, we’d play it again. The reaction it got from the audience, we knew it was a big tune.”

“I’m not sure about some of the lyrics in … I was 17, 18 man. But it was a good youth anthem, I thought.”

From Songfacts

While only a minor hit on the charts, this mod/punk number is well remembered for serving as England’s first introduction to singer/guitarist and Jam songwriter Paul Weller. The song’s #40 chart position when the song was first released marked the beginning of his band’s streak of 18 consecutive Top 40 singles. After their breakup in 1982, Weller would continue to notch up chart entries well into the 21st century firstly with Style Council, then under his own name.

Weller was only 18 when he penned this celebration of youth in the big city. He recalled writing this song to Q magazine April 2011: “It was the sound of young Woking, if not London, a song about trying to break out of suburbia. As far as we were concerned, the city was where it was all happening; the clubs, the gigs, the music, the music. I was probably 18, so it was a young man’s song, a suburbanite dreaming of the delights of London and the excitement of the city. It was an exciting time to be alive. London was coming out of its post-hippy days and there was a new generation taking over. The song captured that wide-eyed innocence of coming out of a very small community and entering a wider world, seeing all the bands, meeting people, going to the clubs, and the freedom that it held.”

The single has the particular distinction of reaching the UK Top 50 on four different occasions. The song originally peaked at #40, then when “Going Underground” became the group’s first #1 single three years later, Polydor decided to re-issue all nine of the group’s prior singles and “City” was the only one to make the Top 40 again, peaking at #40 for a second time. After the group’s breakup at the end of 1982, the record company re-issued every single of the band’s career in early 1983 and this time “City” peaked at #47. Finally, in May 2002, Polydor decided to commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Jam by re-releasing their debut single in its original packaging, in its original 7″ vinyl record format, and at its original price of 75 pence. The limited pressing sold out immediately, this time peaking at #36, higher than it ever did in its original release and two subsequent reissues.

In The City

In the city there’s a thousand things I want to say to you
But whenever I approach you, you make me look a fool
I want to say, I want to tell you
About the young ideas
But you turn them into fears

In the city there’s a thousand faces all shining bright
And those golden faces are under 25
They want to say, they gonna tell ya
About the young idea
You better listen now you’ve said your bit-a

And I know what you’re thinking
You still think I am crap
But you’d better listen man
Because the kids know where it’s at

In the city there’s a thousand men in uniforms
And I’ve heard they now have the right to kill a man
We want to say, we gonna tell ya
About the young idea
And if it don’t work, at least we said we’ve tried

In the city, in the city
In the city there’s a thousand things I want to say to you


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

22 thoughts on “Jam – In The City”

  1. What a great band- and song. Paul Weller with The Jam/ Style Council and his solo career certainly one of the most overlooked great careers- here in the US.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. A lot of people talk about The Jam when it comes to 80s bands…I know they’re highly regarded but I never was that into them…I do really like “The Bitterest Pill…” I like “In the City” too, though this is the first time I’ve heard it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A Town Called Malice i really like. It took me a while to get them…but when I did I really liked them.
      I’ll be around soon Pam to your blog…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Cool tune. That’s what friends are for, to introduce you to great music – well, at least in part! 🙂

    I have to give credit to my best friend who in high school got Neil Young’s “Live Rust” and Bob Marley’s “Babylon by Bus” on vinyl and lent them to me – two records that essentially marked the beginning of my musical journey with these two artists.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes…he kept me up on what was then alternative…I guess it was…any how it wasn’t overly popular here…opened my eyes to new music. Sounds like yours did also!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely. At that time, I had only known a couple of Neil Young and Bob Marley songs, so listening to these two albums definitely brought both on my radar screen. I suspect I’ve gotten much more into them than he did, especially Neil who is one of my favorite music artist. I also still enjoy Bob Marley!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Those artists I really enjoy also. I didn’t get into Bob until a little later than Neil but yea…both are great.


    1. Personally…I like Sound Effects the best…their last album called The Gift is good also…a little funk mixed in.
      They were pretty consistent…I do like their mix of mod/punk

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Despite my knowledge about music – which being a blogger makes me realize on a daily basis that I really don’t know shit – I’ve never heard of Jam, even though most everyone else commenting knows about and loves them. I am familiar with the Style Council of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I only knew about them earlier because of a friend that liked alternative music…they were one of those British bands that just never hit in America like Slade and others.
      I don’t know shit either! I have learned a lot since blogging though.

      Liked by 1 person

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