"Eton Rifles" as written by and Paul John Weller....
Sup up your beer and collect your fags
There's a row going on down near slough
Get out your mat and pray to the west
I'll get out mine and pray for myself
Thought you were smart when you took them on
But you didn't take a peep in their artillery room
All that rugby puts hairs on your chest
What chance have you got against a tie and a crest?

Hello-hooray, what a nice day, for the Eton rifles, Eton rifles
Hello-hooray, I hope rain stops play, with the Eton rifles, Eton rifles

Thought you were clever when you lit the fuse
Tore down the house of commons in your brand new shoes
Compose a revolutionary symphony
Then went to bed with a charming young thing

Hello-hooray, cheers then mate, its the Eton rifles, Eton rifles
Hello-hooray, an extremist scrape, with the Eton rifles, Eton rifles

What a catalyst you turned out to be
Loaded the guns then you run off home for your tea
Left me standing, like a guilty schoolboy

What a catalyst you turned out to be
Loaded the guns then you run off home for your tea
Left me standing, like a naughty schoolboy

We came out of it naturally the worst
Beaten and bloody and I was sick down my shirt
We were no match for their untamed wit
Though some of the lads said they'll be back next week

Hello-hooray, there's a price to pay, to the Eton rifles, Eton rifles
Hello-hooray, I'd prefer the plague, to the Eton rifles, Eton rifles

Hello-hooray, there's a price to pay, to the Eton rifles, Eton rifles
Hello-hooray, I'd prefer the plague, to the Eton rifles, Eton rifles

Eton rifles, Eton rifles
Eton rifles, Eton rifles


Lyrics submitted by Hannhrarian

"The Eton Rifles" as written by Paul John Weller

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Eton Rifles song meanings
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13 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentWhen Cameron stated that he loved this song when he was in Eton, Weller went bananas and said he was outraged that a conservative dared like one of his songs and that Cameron didn't realise that it was an anti-Eton song.
    Actually, I'm pretty sure that Cameron has perceived, somehow, that Weller is a leftist (no need to grow a beard à la Castro and appear with a red star beret), and doesn't think Eton Rifles is a celebration of Eton graduates. I'm pretty sure Cameron just doesn't give a fig about Weller's political opinions. In fact, when Eton students chanted "Eton Rifles" (as Cameron says they did), the laugh seemed to be on Weller, and that makes him a little mad. Poor Paul.
    hertzon September 25, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Commentyes, Cameron didn't get where he was today by not understanding the lyrics to his favourite songs. the song is all about the Eton society openly crushing underfoot the working classes. No wonder he loves it.
    jeanpierreon January 03, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHow come no-one else has commented on this song? Definitly one of The Jam's best songs.
    powelly_69on November 07, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentDuring 1978/9 on a Right To Work march from the north to the south as the marchers passed Eton or was it Harrow they were roundly abused by students.Weller wrote The Eton Rifles as a direct reaction to that .The lyric thought you were clever when you lit the fuse tore down the house of commons in your brand new shoes composed the revolutionary symphony then went to bed with a charming young thing,is apparently a dig at The Clash
    Mr Smashon April 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionA very clever piece of music and lyrical art that points to the class divide without overly deriding any section. As relevant today as ever.
    phil102114on April 02, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't remember exactly, but I sorta recall this song being about gang violence / labour disputes in Eton. I really don't remember well enough, though.
    endestewon November 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSurely it's about class divisions and the "Old Boys' circuit"? How he feels his opportunities are taken by those with a "tie and a crest"?
    hastalavictoriaon November 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI thought it was about the public school boys that run the government.
    lynnzalon November 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningSpecifically this song is about a right to work demonstration in the 80's. It's actually a criticism of the socialist workers party, see on this demonstration a bunch of SWP members decided to pick a fight with some posh Eton kids, dragging other people on the demo with them, but these people they were picking a fight with were rugby players, thus quite strong. When it became clear that they were losing the fight the SWP members ran away, leaving other demonstrators in the fight getting battered. The song is from the POV of one of the non-SWP demonstrators who got left in the fight while the SWP ran off.

    Hence the lyrics:
    "Thought you were smart when you took them on,
    But you didnt take a peep in their artillary room,
    All that rugby puts hairs on your chest,
    What chance have you got against a tie and a crest.

    What a catalyst you turned out to be,
    Loaded the guns then you run off home for your tea,
    Left me standing - like a guilty schoolboy.

    We came out of it naturally the worst,
    Beaten and bloody and I was sick down my shirt,"

    Thatgirl555on August 05, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's obvious why David Cameron likes this - because in the song, the Eton boys win the fight!
    finnegan63on February 19, 2011   Link

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