In a Nutshell
"London Calling" is set in a post-apocalyptic Britain, where human technology has failed and people have to fend for themselves. (Think 28 Days Later
, but maybe not the terrible sequel.) So if that doesn't seem relevant to your life, what about the issues vocalist Joe Strummer sings about? Oil shortages, nuclear threats, global climate change... Nah, none of those things have been in the news lately. But seriously, "London Calling" is a high-energy tune that will both pump you up and make you fear for the end of the world - if it isn't here already. An almost universally admired band, The Clash delivers a hit that's a heck of a lot of fun, considering all of this heavy subject matter. Prepare to do battle with the zombies, put on some comfy dancing shoes, and see where "London Calling" takes you.
About the Song
||Musician(s)||Joe Strummer (lead vocals), Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, Mick Jones
|Label||CBS Records (UK), Epic Records (USA)|
|Writer(s)||Joe Strummer, Mick Jones|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
The lyrics to "London Calling" aren't just a bunch of pessimistic nonsense. You've probably heard of the Cold War
- that's the one where everyone was afraid that either the United States or the Soviet Union would nuke the world into oblivion. And maybe you've heard of the dangerous accident at Three Mile Island
, a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, which happened the very year this song was released. You might not have heard of the oil shortages
of the 1970s, but we bet your parents have. All in all, The Clash - always a deeply political band - was well informed about both current events and historical ones. Just take the title of this song: "London calling" was a catch phrase of BBC radio beginning back during World War II
. Of course, The Clash were also in tune with musical history, as shown by the fact that the album cover is an allusion to Elvis Presley's
On the Charts
peaked at 9th place on the UK albums chart.
The album has sold over 2 million copies across the world. Rolling Stone
placed the album in the 8th spot in its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
The lead single, "London Calling," hit 11 on the UK Singles Chart in 1979. Rolling Stone
currently has the song at 15 in its list of the greatest songs of all time.