London Calling (3:19)

Cover of London Calling

From London Calling and 119 other releases

“London Calling” is a song by the British punk rock band The Clash. It was released as a single from the band’s 1979 double album London Calling. This apocalyptic, politically charged rant features the band’s famous combination of reggae basslines and punk electric guitar and vocals.


Writing and recording

The song was written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones. The title alludes to the BBC World Service’s station identification: “This is London calling …”, that was used during World War II, often in broadcasts to occupied countries.

The lyrics reflect the concern felt by Strummer about world events with the reference to “a nuclear error” to the incident at Three Mile Island, which occurred earlier in 1979. Joe Strummer has said: “We felt that we were struggling about to slip down a slope or something, grasping with our fingernails. And there was no one there to help us.”

The line “London is drowning / And I live by the river” comes from concerns that if the River Thames flooded, most of central London would drown, something that led to the construction of the Thames Barrier. Strummer’s concern for social violence is evident through the lines “we ain’t got no swing/ except for the ring of that truncheon thing”. This is perhaps a reference to the London riots at the time. Social criticism also features through references to the effects of casual drug taking: “we ain’t got no high / except for that one with the yellowy eyes”.

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London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics

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  • Liloucat

    <3 just love it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    23 Jul 9:14pm Reply
  • iam_the_enemy

    Best punk song ever made [2]

    27 Jun 1:39am Reply
  • YoQueSe666

    The pace slackens and the gloom intensifies for this track. Lead vocalist of The Clash, Joe Strummer was an avid news reader, and the apocalyptic lyrics in “London Calling” are reflective of his global anxieties. It’s the late 1970s... an ice age was coming, the Cold War was rife, and London was susceptible to flooding. Strummer put problem to pen and paper, and produced the murky magnificence that we have today. With records like “White Riot” and “I Fought The Law,” The Clash was anti-authority incarnate – but this brooding number tops them all! -- watchmojo

    22 Jun 11:48am Reply
  • RoomForSymmetry

    Love the way the bass slides in at the beginning. Both times I've flown to London, this was the last song I listened to. Bitchin' tune!

    20 Jun 7:11pm Reply
  • LCDnewOrder

    901 'CAUSE LONDON IS DROWNING AND IIIIII, LIVE BY THE RIVER!

    4 May 12:13pm Reply
  • trailways

    best punk song ever made, 900

    2 May 3:45pm Reply
  • Beanoboo

    899. Good but overplayed. They have so many good songs. It's a shame that radio, at least in the cities on east coast in the states, only played/plays their more sedate hits and plays them to death like they do with London Calling.

    16 Feb 3:13am Reply
  • grintodeath

    see all 896 shouts...I mean 897

    29 Jan 12:27am Reply
  • jakobdorof

    absurdly good

    14 Jan 8:17pm Reply
  • malecool

    The capital of the world calls

    6 Jan 9:00pm Reply
  • LostImeem

    Northern Exile, there are plenty of liberals in London who love immigrants and hate white nationalists with a passion. Besides, a lot of the locals ARE immigrants from Jamaica, the West Indies, African countries, and yes, the United States.

    21 Dec 2013 Reply
  • southstarmusic

    Classico ♫♥♫

    3 Dec 2013 Reply
  • Panecea

    SMACK!!!

    20 Oct 2013 Reply
  • deathstroyer

    London is awesome if it comes to evenings, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There are so many things happening! This city is alive 24/7. But yeah, it is expensive. And fucking great song by The Clash.

    2 Sep 2013 Reply
  • NorthernExile

    JustBreathe94. Yes it is a great song but sorry to disappoint you but London really isn't that great, its very expensive to live here and the locals don't like immigrants. Stay at home and continue to dream if I was you unless you are coming for a short holiday.

    25 Aug 2013 Reply
  • wretched-one

    I remember buying this 7" when it came with my pocket money from John Menzies (uk chain store, now long gone) I was 11 years old! 34 years has just flown by and this still sounds as great now as it ever did :)

    20 Aug 2013 Reply
  • El_Salvador7

    Just noticed how Paul Simonon absolutely drives this song with his signature simple but extremely effective bass line.

    10 Aug 2013 Reply
  • JustBreathe94

    I'd love to live in London to love this song even more :(

    10 Aug 2013 Reply
  • Lindsey191

    7 Aug 2013 Reply
  • cardiac1

    Good to hear this one again.

    22 Jul 2013 Reply
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