"The Prisoner" as written by Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon....
The prisoner meets the Muppet hi-fi
North of Watford junction
We get in but we don't have fun
An' we leave before the truncheons
So it's back to watch the day to day
Saga of working people
Hanging out the washing and clipping coupons
And generally being decent

Johnny too bad meets johnny be good
In the Charing Cross Road
That's the only thing that happened today
Says the west end jungle code
And all the Germans and all the French
Jam themselves down the tube
And re-enact the second world war
While the rude boys get rude!

And I look to my left
And I look to my right
And I'm looking for a man
I'm looking for a sign
I don't want to be the prisoner

The prisoner lives in Camden Town
Selling revolution
The prisoner loads his tracking arm up
With self-disillusion
Your mother does the washing up
Your old man digs the garden
You're only free to dodge the cops
An' bunk the train to stardom


Lyrics submitted by aebassist

"The Prisoner" as written by Mick Jones Joe Strummer

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Prisoner song meanings
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12 Comments

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  • 0
    General Commentfavorite song right now!
    RAPisCRAP222on June 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me this song seems to be expressing a desire to escape from being a "prisoner" of boring everyday life... about a year ago when I first heard it it instantly became one of my first songs
    Indiemonkeyon March 06, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me this song seems to be expressing a desire to escape from being a "prisoner" of boring everyday life... about a year ago when I first heard it it instantly became one of my favourite songs
    Indiemonkeyon March 06, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWeird song. Listening to this while high was the greatest experience I ever had while in that state... On the surface it sounds like a straight up punk song, but listen closely and there's a lot of strange noises in the mix.

    Indiemonkey seems about right... Also the title is referring to the bizzaro British 60s tv series of the same name.
    Quonseton April 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentvery good bass riffs..paul simonon smash your bass now..bad thing he stopped performing after the clash evaporated..
    strummervilleon August 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPaul is performing again!!
    cornersoulon November 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is actually about Bernie Rhodes (the original Clash manager) on account of his obsessive nature of working in the rehearsal rehearsal's office.
    philstrummeron March 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have heard before that this song refers to Bernie Rhodes- certainly the Camden town line seems to refer to him. But when I listen to this song I imagine Mick may have written this while riding the tube somewhere and looking around at people stuck in the monotony of everyday life and thinking, I don't want to be like that.
    cardcheaton May 31, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe song is not exclusively about Bernie Rhodes, if it is at all, which i doubt. The line 'the prisoner lives in Camden Town selling revolution' could be about him but I'm pretty sure wasn't living in Camden at the time - i'd need to delve into my pile of Clash biographies t check that though.

    The song is mostly about day-to-day life for a city kid as far as i can tell. Probably Mick Jones himself, as he did like to write about himself a lot ('Train in Vain' 'Deny' 'I'm Not Down' 'Stay Free'...)

    the day to day saga of working people - british coap opera Corontion Street.

    MeX
    dwitefryon October 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentoh some more compedium stuff

    Johnny too Bad - a Reggae song by The Slickers, included on the Harder They Come soundtrack. Supposedly Mick Jone's favourite Reggae Song.

    Johnny B. Good - Chuck Berry classic song. Even if i think it's inferior to about half of his other 'greatest hits' at the very least.

    'to bunk' - in this context it means to to get onto a train for free.

    MeX
    dwitefryon October 28, 2008   Link

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