Clash – Train In Vain

I’m on a business trip this week so I won’t be responding as normal most of the time. I’m not driving so I should be able to check comments here and there on my phone. I’ll be back more regularly on Friday but will post every day till then.

This was the first song I ever knew by the Clash when I heard it on the radio in 1980. The song is credited to Mick Jones and Joe Strummer like most Clash songs. Mick Jones takes the lead vocals in this one.

They started off as a punk band but The Clash, unlike some other Punk bands, could really play and sing well…, especially Mick Jones. He is was probably the best pure musician in the band.

The song was said to come from the train rhythm in the song combined with the theme of being lost. You also hear a reference to Tammy Wynette’s 1975 hit single Stand By Your Man. Train In Vain also contains a pointed reference to his flat being burgled in early 1979 and to his feelings of depression (“I need new clothes, I need somewhere to stay”).

The original vinyl copy of London Calling “Train Is Vain” isn’t listed on the track listing 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 track listing.

The only clue of its 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 track listing on the sleeve.

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.

Train In Vain

Say you stand by your manTell me something I don’t understandYou said you love me and that’s a factAnd then you left me, said you felt trappedWell, some things you can explain awayBut my heartache’s in me ’til this day

You didn’t stand by meNo, not at allYou didn’t stand by meNo way

All the times when we were closeI’ll remember these things the mostI see all my dreams come tumbling downI can’t be happy without you aroundSo alone I keep the wolves at bayAnd there’s only one thing that I can say

You didn’t stand by meNo, not at allYou didn’t stand by meNo way

You must explain why this must beDid you lie when you spoke to me?Did you stand by me?No, not at all

Now I got a job, but it don’t payI need new clothes, I need somewhere to stayBut without all these things I can doBut without your love, I won’t make it throughBut you don’t understand my point of viewI suppose there’s nothing I can do

You didn’t stand by meNo, not at allYou didn’t stand by meNo way

You didn’t stand by meNo, not at allYou didn’t stand by meNo way

You must explain why this must beDid you lie when you spoke to me?Did you stand by me?

Did you stand by me?No, not at allDid you stand by me?No wayDid you stand by me?No, not at allDid you stand by me?No way

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

27 thoughts on “Clash – Train In Vain”

  1. Best punk band of the time – and one the best overall bands of all time.
    Never thought to look before, but now I have, I see my vinyl copy ( 2015 reissue) remains true to what you say – ‘Train in Vain’ is not listed on either the outer or inner sleeve, but is so, at position D5 on Side 4.
    Thanks Max! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great catchy little tune that really showed people there was a lot more to The Clash than what they might have guessed. I had a friend back in the day, in school who loved them and in fact picked them as his favorite band. He was a bit ahead of his time, looking back.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Recognized this one the moment it started playing. It’s one of those songs I liked when I heard it on the radio but never looked beyond the listening moment. I bet those original albums are worth something nowadays.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh thank you….the foot is doing good and my knee…so I got lucky on that.
        We are in an Air BnB in Atlanta…everything else is going fine.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great song and I heard it a tin back in the spring of 82 when my geography class went on a 4 day stay at a camp about 45 minutes out of town. A girl sat at the back of the bus and played Train In Vain and Hungry Heart (Springsteen) as she got dumped by her boyfriend continuously on her ghetto blaster until someone finally snapped on her to change it up lol

    Like

  5. The Jam had a similarly unlisted track around the same time called English Rose – apparently Weller was self-conscious about singing a straightforward love song and hid it.

    Headon was an amazing musician too – on piano on Rock the Casbah.

    Liked by 1 person

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