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

Clash – The Magnificent Seven

The bass intro to this song is worth the price of admission by itself. It still sounds alive and fresh 42 years later. When you namecheck Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Milhous Nixon, Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, and Rin Tin Tin…you are doing damn well.

Bassist Paul Simonon was busy starring in a film called Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains when the Clash started the album Sandinista! Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ bassist Norman Watt-Roy was there so we wrote the superb bassline.

There was a controversy after Sandinista! was released due to every song having the”The Clash” writing credit that failed to name outside writers like Norman Watt-Roy. This has been considered the first rap-style song to be written by a white rock band.  It was recorded in March 1980, six months before Blondie’s own attempt at the genre with “Rapture.” For me, I do think it has elements of course but it’s a cross between rock, rap, funk, and Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues. I also hear elements of the next album Combat Rock in this one.

The song peaked at 21 on the Billboard Dance Chart, #18 in Canada, and #34 in the UK.

The song was recorded in March 1980 at Electric Lady Studios in New York City. Sandinista! was released as a triple album in 1980. It peaked at #24 on the Billboard Album Charts, #3 in Canada, #3 in New Zealand, and #19 in the UK in 1980. They did get the title from the famous 1960 movie. 

Joe Strummer on the triple album: “I stand proud of it, warts and all. It’s a magnificent thing! I wouldn’t change it even if I could. And that’s after some soul-searching. Just from the fact that it was all thrown down in one go. It’s, like, outrageous. And that it was released like that, it’s doubly outrageous — triply outrageous.”

The Magnificent Seven

Ring, ring, it’s 7:00 A.M.
Move yourself to go again
Cold water in the face
Brings you back to this awful place

Knuckle merchants and your bankers too
Must get up and learn those rules
Weather man and the crazy chief
One says sun and one says sleet

A.M., the F.M. the P.M. too
Churnin’ out that boogaloo
Gets you up and it gets you out
But how long can you keep it up?

Gimme Honda, gimme Sony
So cheap and real phony
Hong Kong dollar, Indian cents
English pounds and Eskimo pence

You lot, what?
Don’t stop, give it all you got
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, yeah

You lot, what?
Don’t stop, give it all you got
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, yeah

Working for a rise, better my station
Take my baby to sophistication
Seen the ads, she thinks it’s nice
Better work hard, I seen the price

Never mind that it’s time for the bus
We got to work and you’re one of us
Clocks go slow in a place of work
Minutes drag and the hours jerk

Yeah, wave bye, bye (when can I tell ’em what I do?)
(In a second, maan, alright Chuck)

Wave bub-bub-bub-bye to the boss
It’s our profit, it’s his loss
But anyway the lunch bells ring
Take one hour, do your thang
Cheeesboiger

What do we have for entertainment?
Cops kickin’ gypsies on the pavement
Now the news has snapped to attention
Lunar landing of the dentist convention

Italian mobster shoots a lobster
Seafood restaurant gets out of hand
A car in the fridge, a fridge in the car
Like cowboys do in TV land

You lot, what?
Don’t stop, give it all you got
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, huh

You lot, what?
Don’t stop, give it all you got, yeah
You lot, what?
Don’t stop

So get back to work and sweat some more
The sun will sink and we’ll get out the door
It’s no good for man to work in cages
Hit the town, he drinks his wages

You’re frettin’, you’re sweatin’
But did you notice, you ain’t gettin’
You’re frettin’, you’re sweatin’
But did you notice, not gettin’ anywhere

Don’t you ever stop, a long enough to start
Take your car outta that gear
Don’t you ever stop, long enough to start
Get your car outta that gear

Karlo Marx and Frederick Engels
Came to the checkout at the 7-11
Marx was skint but he had sense
Engels lent him the necessary pence

What have we got? Yeah, ooh
What have we got? Yeah, ooh
What have we got? Magnificence
What have we got?

Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi
Went to the park to check on the game
But they was murdered by the other team
Who went on to win fifty-nil

You can be true, you can be false
You’ll be given the same reward
Socrates and Milhous Nixon
Both went the same way through the kitchen

Plato the Greek or Rin Tin Tin
Who’s more famous to the billion millions?
News flash, ‘Vacuum cleaner sucks up budgie’
Ooh, bye-bye, bub-bye

The magnificent seven
Magnificent
Magnificent seven