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Song of the Moment: White Riot

Not too chicken to try it anymore . . .

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Song: White Riot

Artist: The Clash

Recorded: February 1977

Released: March 1977

Format: 7"

B-Side: 1977

Length: 1:58

Wikipedia: Lyrically, the song is about class economics and race and thus proved controversial: some people thought it was advocating a kind of race war. Rather, lyricist Joe Strummer was trying to appeal to white youths to find a worthy cause to riot, as he felt blacks in the UK already had. It contains a positive message in the lines "Are you taking over / Or are you taking orders? / Are you going backwards / Or are you going forwards?"

The song was written after Joe Strummer and bassist Paul Simonon were involved in the riots at the Notting Hill Carnival of 1976.

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"White Riot" is considered a classic in The Clash canon, although as the band matured, Mick Jones would at times refuse to play it, considering it crude and musically inept. Over two decades later, Joe Strummer would perform it with his band the Mescaleros.

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Songfacts: This is inspired by the Notting Hill riots. On August 30, 1976, black youths clashed with Police at a carnival in the English town. Clash members Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon, and their manager Bernie Rhodes were there and got caught up in the riots, taking a stand against the police. Strummer felt that young white people should express their outrage over oppressive government just as blacks were, through direct action and protest.

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The album wasn't released in the US until 1979. Over 100,000 copies were sold there as an import in 1977.

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Clash members Mick Jones and Joe Strummer played this together for the last time in November, 2002. Jones was in the audience for one of Strummer's solo shows and came onstage to join him. Strummer died of a heart attack a month later.

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Lyrics:

White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own

Black people gotta lot a problems
But they don't mind throwing a brick
White people go to school
Where they teach you how to be thick

An' everybody's doing
Just what they're told to
An' nobody wants
To go to jail!

White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own

All the power's in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it
While we walk the street
Too chicken to even try it

Everybody's doing
Just what they're told to
Nobody wants
To go to jail!

White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own

Are you taking over
or are you taking orders?
Are you going backwards
Or are you going forwards?

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The original single:

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Rage Against The Machine cover live in London, 2010:

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Previously in Song of the Moment:
* Iron Man
* The Story of Bo Diddley
* Teach Your Children
* Dream Vacation
* When The Levee Breaks
* I Kissed A Girl
* Theme From Shaft
* Rocky Mountain High
* North to Alaska
* Barracuda
* Rainy Days and Mondays
* Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
* Baby, It's Cold Outside
* Man in the Mirror
* Birthday Sex
* Rio
* My Sharona
* Alex Chilton
* Surfin' Bird
* By The Time I Get To Arizona
* Heaven and Hell
* Sunday Bloody Sunday
* Lawless One
* Tell It Like It Is
* The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
* Lake Shore Drive
* On, Wisconsin!
* Anarchy in the U.K.
* Ballad of a Thin Man

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See also:
* Songs of the Occupation: To Have And To Have Not
* Songs of the Occupation: Johnny 99

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And From The Beachwood Occupation Affairs Desk:
* Occupy Chicago. Occupy The Nation.

* The Week in Occupy Chicago

* Occupy America

* We've Got The Guillotine!

* Occupying The Hyatt; Trashing Bank Of America

* Why No One Believes The Banks

* Occupy CNN

* RT's Superior Cable News Coverage Continues With Its 'Occupy Wall Street' Reportage

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (October 17, 2011)

* Just How Much Can the State Restrict Peaceful Protest

* Blue Ribbon Glee Club Joins The Occupation

* The Week in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 21, 2011)

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 24, 2011)

* Jimmy Fallon (& Friends) For The 1%

* Today In Occupy Chicago (Oct. 26, 2011)

* Occupation Diary: The Horse, Keith Sweat And Cell 72

* The Week in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 28, 2011)

* Wall Street to Occupy Chicago: Drop Dead

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Comments welcome.



Permalink

Posted on November 3, 2011


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