London Calling (3:19)

Cover of London Calling

From London Calling and 125 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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  • Disvisonpunk86

    one my favourites and one of the greatest punk rock songs ever written <3

    26 Jun 5:47pm Reply
  • Monade2010

    ♥ ♫¸¸.• (◕ ‿ ◕) •.¸¸ ♫ ♥ still to be one of my few FAV ♥ ♫¸¸.• (◕ ‿ ◕) •.¸¸ ♫ ♥

    29 Mar 5:00pm Reply
  • Cure1980

    the clash the boarder i cross that i leave Punx and go into Mod Movment.,.

    29 Mar 12:32pm Reply
  • uG1

    yep !

    28 Feb 11:03pm Reply
  • davidbowiegirl

    Great song

    12 Feb 3:51pm Reply
  • wiseblood-

    One of the greatest songs of ALL TIMES!

    20 Dec 2014 Reply
  • Silvanacorreap

    Classic Punk !

    10 Sep 2014 Reply
  • Liloucat

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

    23 Jul 2014 Reply
  • iam_the_enemy

    Best punk song ever made [2]

    27 Jun 2014 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 2014 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 2014 Reply
  • LCDnewOrder

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

    4 May 2014 Reply
  • trailways

    best punk song ever made, 900

    2 May 2014 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 2014 Reply
  • grintodeath

    see all 896 shouts...I mean 897

    29 Jan 2014 Reply
  • jakobdorof

    absurdly good

    14 Jan 2014 Reply
  • malecool

    The capital of the world calls

    6 Jan 2014 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
  • All 912 shouts

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