"Clampdown" as written by Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon....
What are we gonna do now?

Taking off his turban, they said, is this man a Jew?
'Cause they're working for the clampdown
They put up a poster saying we earn more than you!
When we're working for the clampdown
We will teach our twisted speech
To the young believers
We will train our blue-eyed men
To be young believers

The judge said five to ten-but I say double that again
I'm not working for the clampdown
No man born with a living soul
Can be working for the clampdown
Kick over the wall 'cause government's to fall
How can you refuse it?
Let fury have the hour, anger can be power
D'you know that you can use it?

The voices in your head are calling
Stop wasting your time, there's nothing coming
Only a fool would think someone could save you
The men at the factory are old and cunning
You don't owe nothing, so boy get runnin'
It's the best years of your life they want to steal

You grow up and you calm down
You're working for the clampdown
You start wearing the blue and brown
You're working for the clampdown
So you got someone to boss around
It makes you feel big now
You drift until you brutalize
Make your first kill now

In these days of evil Presidentes
Working for the clampdown
But lately one or two has fully paid their due
For working for the clampdown
Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong! (working for the clampdown)
Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong! (working for the clampdown)

Yeah I'm working in Harrisburg
Working hard in Petersburg (working for the clampdown, working for the clampdown)
Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong!
Beggin' to be melted down

And I'll give away no secrets

Lyrics submitted by aebassist

"Clampdown" as written by Mick Jones Joe Strummer

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Clampdown song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentI don't know if i am the only person that sees this, but the first few lines of the song have pretty strong references to nazis and Hitler's regime.

    "Taking off his turban, they said, is this man a Jew?"
    "We will teach our twisted speech
    To the young believers
    We will train our blue-eyed men
    To be young believers "

    Adolf Hitler brainwashed the blue eyed/blonde haired German youth to be "young believers".

    CubanPunkon April 22, 2003   Link
  • +3
    General Commentyou don't need to have been alive in the seventies to love the clash: 15 years old and they're possibly my favourite band!
    simonon3on April 16, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThough there are certainly allusions being made to Marxist-leninist styles of mass oppression this song to me is about the indoctrination of youth into general systems of power... whether they be national governments or work and consume business cultures.

    So often we see those that wear suits and think of them as having some kind of extra legitimacy for their success but it's a self-depraving lie. There's nothing incredibly wrong with a business lifestyle but there's equally nothing wrong with a free spirited one, especially when you're younger. So live and enjoy things.
    TSandrewson July 27, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think this song's about people who lose their idealism as they get older, and try to conform.
    posterwithnonameon March 26, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti love this song... as a business major, it's something that i've always kept in my head... that i'll never turn into one of them... i absolutely love this line "No man born with a living soul
    Can be working for the clampdown"... and yet i've seen the effect money has on people who are generally good and the destruction it causes... don't be a corporate slave!
    nyrangerfan123on April 29, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song does have several references to the Nazi Government and thier ideals, such as the references to the Jews earning less than the "blue-eyed young believers".

    I also found the lyrics: "You start wearing blue and brown/working for the clampdown." could be used as references to Hitler's private armies, the SA and the SS, who's uniforms were blue and brown.

    This is one of my favorate songs by The Clash. Period.
    myfriendoakon May 24, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentrage against the machine did an absolutely terrible version of this song that i found on the net one time.
    yeah i wear blue for my clampdown job, im quitting soon though, it is true, you get treated badly working for big companies.
    oh and the strokes are shit alanna07.
    joeytheboyon March 29, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe nearly indecipherable bit at the beginning of the song?
    "The kingdom is ransacked, the jewels all taken back
    And the chopper descends
    They're hidden in the back, with a message on a half-baked tape
    With the spool going round, saying I'm back here in this place
    And I could cry
    And there's smoke you could click on"
    courtesy of Ade Marks (not me!)
    missilepenguinon May 25, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA lot of you are overlooking the simple fact that a song can and generally does have multiple meanings. The references to Nazi Germany are metaphorical, but they're not solely so. It's not a song about any specific power or corruption, but all in one.

    The Nazi bit can easily be read as a metaphorical reference to the cut-throat capitalist business world, any of many governments imposing unneeded and unwanted restrictions on their people, and even directly a mention of Nazi Germany as a prime example.

    It could very well be read as something of an exposure of the people who claimed after the war that they knew what they had done was wrong but did it to save themselves. If you truly believe something to be wrong and immoral, and truly oppose it, you won't go with the flow to save face.

    What am I getting at with this?
    Felix, get your elitist head out of your ass. No, the wall had not fallen in '79, but the wall did exist, and was seen as a sign of repression and degradation. No, your "deep meaning" isn't all that deep, the song has multiple meanings.

    Thank you and good night (now get the fuck out.)
    12xlon July 08, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have a different view- starting with the song's title, which was used throughout the second half of the 20th century as moscow clamped down on expressions of dissent and individual freedom in eastern european states.

    I think that Clampdown is about the socialist worker-style communist groups that were relatively popular in Britain at the time. I agree with everyone that it's one of the Clash's best songs, but I think a couple of the lyrics are wrong above, and that the reading I suggest is the most coherent and consistent.

    "Cover the wall, cause governments can fall- how can you refuse it" I reckon this is about putting up communist posters, and the allure of socialist revolution to young people.

    "Stop wasting your time, there's nothing coming" means 'stop waiting for the revolution'.

    "Evil Presidentes working for the clampdown"- it's pretty clear that refers to dictators- Castro was always presidente. The reference to "paying their dues" is also a communist party/trade union reference.

    If you look at the song with this interpretation, the rest makes sense too. The Clash were social commentators, whose main message was one of personal and class emancipation. But they were too intelligent and iconoclastic to be moscow-line communists. This song is a rejection of the cult-like communist groups that still exist in much of the western world, and the "best years of your life" these groups too often steal from idealistic young activists.

    That's my two cents anyway!
    fteon October 14, 2008   Link

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