"Should I Stay or Should I Go" is a song by The Clash, from their album Combat Rock. It was written in 1981 and featured Mick Jones on lead vocals. It became the band's only number-one single, a decade after it was originally released. In November 2004, it was ranked at 228 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The tune leans towards more of a retro punk rock sound than most of the other tracks on the album. Though many legends have arisen about what the song is about (one of which is Jones' impending dismissal from the Clash in 1983), it is actually about a rocky personal relationship between Jones and former Meat Loaf backup singer Ellen Foley that would soon implode. The lyrics seem to reflect ups and downs concerning the relationship and the dilemma of sticking with or ending it.
The Spanish backing vocals are courtesy of Joe Strummer:
“ On the spur of the moment I said 'I'm going to do the backing vocals in Spanish,'…We needed a translator so Eddie Garcia, the tape operator, called his mother in Brooklyn Heights and read her the lyrics over the phone and she translated them. But Eddie and his mum are Ecuadorian, so it's Ecuadorian Spanish that me and Joe Ely are singing on the backing vocals. ”
—Joe Strummer, 1991
The single was reissued several times. In 1982, with a different cover as a double A-side with "Straight to Hell" and with "Cool Confusion" as its B-side. In 1983, with "First Night Back in London" on the side two, and in 1991, with "Rush" by Mick Jones' group Big Audio Dynamite II as its B-side
"Should I Stay or Should I Go" has been covered by many artists including Skin, Ice Cube and Mack 10, Error Type II, Living Colour, The Long Tall Texans, Spastic Vibrations, Guitar Wolf, Die Toten Hosen, Bai Bang, Super Green, The Picketts, and even Kylie Minogue.
Post punk band The Libertines performed a live version of the song, with Mick Jones featured on guitar. Jones, also sampled the track for his Big Audio Dynamite II song "The Globe". The American punk band MxPx frequently covers the song during live sets. ZZ Top also covered it in the early 1980s. On December 22, 2007, Love and Rockets played "Should I Stay or Should I Go" at the Strummerville benefit show at the Key Club in Los Angeles. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers also included it in their sets in the past.
Cover band Camp Freddy have performed an acoustic version of the song.
B-side - "Inoculated City"
Released - June 10, 1982 (1982-06-10)
Format - 7" single, cassette tape
Genre - Punk rock, pop punk
Length - 3:06
Label - Epic 14-03006
Writer(s) - The Clash
Producer - The Clash