The distant echo
Of faraway voices boarding faraway trains
To take them home to
The ones that they love and who love them forever
The glazed, dirty steps
Repeat my own and reflect my thoughts
Cold and uninviting, partially naked
Except for toffee wrappers and this morning's papers
Mr. Jones got run down
Headlines of death and sorrow, they tell of tomorrow
Madmen on the rampage
And I'm down in the tube station at midnight, oh

I fumble for change, and pull out the Queen
Smiling, beguiling
I put in the money and pull out a plum
Behind me
Whispers in the shadows, gruff blazing voices
Hating, waiting
"Hey boy" they shout, "Have you got any money?"
And I say, "I've a little money and a takeaway curry
I'm on my way home to my wife
She'll be lining up the cutlery, you know she's expecting me
Polishing the glasses and pulling out the cork"
I'm down in the tube station at midnight, oh

I first felt a fist, and then a kick
I could now smell their breath
They smelt of pubs, and wormwood scrubs
And too many right wing meetings
My life swam around me
It took a look and drowned me in its own existence
The smell of brown leather
It blended in with the weather
Filled my eyes, ears, nose and mouth, it blocked all my senses
Couldn't see, hear, speak any longer
I'm down in the tube station at midnight, oh
I said I was down in the tube station at midnight, oh

The last thing that I saw as I lay there on the floor
Was "Jesus saves" painted by an atheist nutter
And a British Rail poster read
"Have an away day, a cheap holiday, do it today"
I glanced back on my life, and thought about my wife
'Cause they took the keys, and she'll think it's me
I'm down in the tube station at midnight
The wine will be flat and the curry's gone cold
I'm down in the tube station at midnight, oh
Don't want to go down in a tube station at midnight, oh
Don't want to go down in a tube station at midnight, oh
Don't want to go down in a tube station at midnight, oh
Don't want to go down in a tube station at midnight, oh

Lyrics submitted by Mainstreet

Down in the Tube Station at Midnight Lyrics as written by Paul John Weller

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Down In The Tube Station At Midnight song meanings
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  • +5
    General Comment

    Does anyone else think that the man dies and is looking back at the inncodent from after death?

    Here's why i think so:

    He's clearly travelling home at dinner time "She'll be lining up the cutlery". Yet he is still in the tube station at midnight. Can you think of a reason why he should still be there about 6 hours later?

    He is talking in the past tense about lying, concious, on the ground "I glanced back on my life". This suggests that time has elaspsed since the end of the attack. Yet there is no talk of him recovering.

    The many hints that this attack could be fatal: "Jesus Saves", "My life swam around me" and "drowned me". This would be overly-dramatic if it was just a case of a man getting beat up.

    The word "midnight": What is midnight? Its the end of a day/ start of a new one. This may be a metaphor for the end of a life. Its midnight for a reason, I'm guessin that is it.

    Finally, and this is speculative and I may very well be wrong in this assumption, but is the London underground not shut at midnight? In Glasgow, where I live, the subway and inner-city train network shut at 1130pm. If he is still in the station at midnight he must be dead. There's no way they'd lock him in, so the only explaination is that its a crime-scene and his body has not yet been moved.

    droehon March 08, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    Not sure that longliveconrad can quote that these are conservatives!! - I would suggest National Front as were prevalent in the late 70s / early 80s. Other info from other sources:

    This anti-racism song was a first-person narrative about a brutal mugging by jackbooted right-wing thugs in London. Despite having a BBC airplay ban due to its "disturbing nature," it became The Jam's second UK Top 20 hit. The then Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn complained that, "It's disgusting the way punks sing about violence. Why can't they sing about trees and flowers?" Paul Weller wrote this in a matter of minutes. The song was recorded at St John's Wood Station.

    Pookster30on January 11, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    I think this song more than any other shows off Weller's skill as a songwriter. The passage: 'And I said - "I've a little money and a take away curry, I'm on my way home to my wife. She'll be lining up the cutlery, You know she's expecting me Polishing the glasses and pulling out the cork"' portays a man's love for his wife better than an endless stream of 'ooh, I love you baby, ooh's.

    Zagadkaon July 06, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Tony Blackburn refused to give it air play on Radio 1 in the UK because he felt it was too violent to be heard by young impressionable people. Twat!

    jackd36on February 16, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    LOL. Tony Blackburn - what a muppet. Great song, rivals or betters Going Underground. Very relevant to those who've been on the receiving end of a good kickin' late at night in London

    fortunate_boyon February 16, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    no, lyrics are not naff at all. evocative, not naff.

    goodtymze1on March 09, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    you can't say the lyrics to this are "naff" !!!! they are pure genius. you don't get music like this anymore. I particularly like "they smelt of pubs.. and wormwood scrubs, and too many right-wing meetings" ! you don't get clever lyrics like this very often these days. Also, the queen "smiling, beguiling" is a good lyric. very british: love it! :)

    Hannhrarianon August 25, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    BTW - Lyrically I think this is a work of art. Brown leather captures the fashion at the time (try watching 'Life on Mars' Wormwood Scrubs - classic London prison ('Scrubs).

    The lyrics after "It blended in with the weather" I have only just found out and this has impressed me even more than the words I already knew.

    An absolute classic - probably one of the most definings songs of 70s London. "

    Pookster30on January 11, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    The last thing that I saw As I lay there on the floor Was "Jesus Saves" painted by an atheist nutter And a British Rail poster read "Have an Awayday - a cheap holiday - Do it today!"


    grazbosson January 26, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I still know the words to this song after 25 years. But then I know the words to most jam songs, they're great and Paul Weller is a genius

    Pommyon November 09, 2004   Link

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