"Death or Glory" as written by Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon....
Now every cheap hood strikes a bargain with the world
And ends up making payments on a sofa or a girl
Love 'n' hate tattooed across the knuckles of his hands
Hands that slap his kids around 'cause they don't understand how

Death or glory becomes just another story
Death or glory becomes just another story

'N' every gimmick hungry yob digging gold from rock 'n' roll
Grabs the mike to tell us he'll die before he's sold
But I believe in this and it's been tested by research
He who fucks nuns will later join the church

Death or glory becomes just another story
Death or glory becomes just another story

Fear in the down sex
They say lie low
You say okay
Don't wanna play a show
No other thinking
Was it death or glory now
Playing the blues of kings
Sure looks better now

Death or glory just another story
Death or glory just another story

From every dingy basement on every dingy street
Every dragging hand clap over every dragging beat
That's just the beat of time the beat that must go on
If you've been trying for years we already heard your song

Death or glory becomes just another story
Death or glory just another story

Gotta launch long way
Fight a long time
Get to travel over mountains
Got to travel over seas
We gonna fight your brother
We gonna fight til you loose
We gonna raise trouble
We gonna raise hell
We gonna fight your brother
Raise hell

Death or glory becomes just another story
Death or glory becomes just another story

Death or glory just another story
Death or glory becomes just another story


Lyrics submitted by aebassist, edited by Mellow_Harsher, JimmyCarlBlack

"Death or Glory" as written by Mick Jones Joe Strummer

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Death or Glory song meanings
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41 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentI interpreted this differently... (basically I disagree)

    The first paragraph is about how people initially mean well, but then end up (for whatever reason) differently...

    The second paragraph is about hypocrisy - the capitalist yob jumping on the rock 'n' roll bandwagon claiming he will never become capitalist... and the guy who fucks the nun later joining the church... this guy breaches the church's code of conduct, and later complies to it. Hypocrisy.

    The third paragraph is about how those who are sufferuing are trying to change things, and have been doing so for years... and will continue to do this. The line 'if you've been trying for years...' states that it's hopeless - the people have heard and ignored other people's pleas, so it's a useless situation.

    In summary, I think the song is about how the 'death or glory' idea cannot work - because of the hypocrites saying one thing and doing something different, ignoring the pleas of the ordinary people.
    colabottleon July 06, 2003   Link
  • +4
    General CommentEvery young "tough guy" who thinks he has the world by the balls eventually grows up to pay a mortgage, and pay alimony to his ex-wife.

    Every kid who has love and hate tattooed on his knuckles later uses those same hands to discipline his children for not getting good grades, or fighting with his sister.

    Every Rockstar who claims "I'll never grow old" is selling bullshit, because we all grow old. We all become our parents. Hippies grow up to become stock brokers and police officers. Punks grow up to become computer programmers and school teachers.

    Death or glory, the ideals of young rebels, have all been done before. And while you're to young, naive, ignorant, etc. to know what the outcome of your life will be, we already know, cause we seen it all a thousand times. Just another boring fucking story.

    One of my all time favorite Clash songs, and definitely one of their more cynical songs. As with all great lyrics however, using them in different contexts can alter the meaning of the song, or at least shed a new light on it. This one definitely seems to have a connection with music. Perhaps a reflection on bands of the time, or the audience of the time. Basically asking the kids "Do you think you're the first movement of counter-culture to try and stand up for a cause? Do you think you'll be the last?
    R2kon January 15, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't think it's right to say anyone is right or wrong or dumb. I mean, the beautiful things about interpretting song lyrics is that anyone can get anything from it. I do, however, agree with cola bottle. The song seems to mean that, whether you obtain glory or end up dying for a cause, in the end, it becomes "just another story." All of the great things in life become "just another story." And the beat of time is what makes things move on.
    clearlygonemadon October 15, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI take it to mean that "Death or Glory" means nothing in the grand scheme of things. You can believe in something so much that you would give your life for it, but in the end, face it, you're not special.

    The guy in the first verse had some grand cause at one time in his youth, now he is old and bitter. He became just another story.
    bbzzddon October 29, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthese lyrics don't include the break:

    ear in the down sex
    they say lie low
    you say ok
    don't wanna play a show
    no other thinking
    would you get that boy now
    playing the blues of kings
    sure looks better now


    and after the last verse:

    gotta launch long way
    fight a long time
    get to travel over mountains
    got to travel over seas
    we gonna fight your brother
    we gonna fight til you loose
    we gonna raise trouble
    we gonna raise hell
    we gonna fight your brother
    we gonna raise hell
    Chinupon December 03, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's saying if you have a dream of one day basking in your own glory and you set out to do just that, you will fail because that isn't a reason for playing music. And years later you're just another washed up old rock star looking back on how your cause was destroyed by your own pomposity.
    Balleron August 14, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit's about stuggling to be someone important, and failing. we grow up thinking we can be whatever we want, until reality crashes down, and we end up corrupt, or not doing what we wanted at all. this is such a common theme, hence, "death or glory becomes just another story".
    sgt.peppperon December 21, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is has some real genius behind it! There's so much in it.... the young rebel who fights against authority, only to grow up and become a brutal authority to his kids... the futility of rebelling against the system when one wants the financial rewards of that system... the 'from every dingy basement' verse cuts through the self-pity of those who seek glory and fail....

    Does anyone know what 'Fear in the down sex' means?
    Jegbon July 04, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think the whole song is mainly a satire on the fake rock n' roll scene where many people claim to be rebellious but in the end just become a part of commercial agenda and earn a lot of money. Thus why "he who fucks the nun will later join the church." "Death or glory just becomes another story" means that those people are claiming to do things about "death or glory" which seem to be really grandeur but in essence just another mundane, secular commercial agenda thus "just another story"

    In detail, the first paragraph is about somebody who claims to know some "love and peace" stuff but actually is having none of it in his head. He just has such words on because he thinks it's cool while doing *exactly the opposite* of what the words are supposed to bring. A good example would be Mecca World Peace(Ron Artest).

    The second paragraph as mentioned above is about the hypocrisy of rock n' roll. Exactly *those "morally impeccable" priests* are the people who have sexual scandals all year round(haven't we seen enough of it?). Thus the level of "hypocrisy" is even higher.

    The third paragraph is about those who think they've been trying really hard to become rock stars etc but just keep being unheard. The lyrics are basically saying that if they are really doing hard and have talents they must long've been heard already. So after all it's still their fault and they cannot blame the world for being not famous/successful.
    JXSZSMSon November 28, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI dunno, I think WelfareWalnuts had something. This lyrics are about music, but as usual with the Clash and any good lyrics, their meaning's expand to other situations.
    I feel colabottle is reading a bit too much into it, Strummer's just talking about frustrated dudes (The hands that slap his kids around 'cause they don't understand ) in their basements tyring to get something going, but they're musically bankrupt, because they're doing it for the wrong reasons. I don't think the second verse (yes, they're verses, not paragraphs) is really about hypocrisy. It seems more to do with the idea that you are what you do, and if you dabble with certain groups/ideas/companies, you will become part of them (he who fucks nun will later join the church).

    "Death or Glory" is an idea. Suceed or die. But Strummer stresses here that it's bullshit. Don't make music for gimmickery or to be successful - make it for yourself, make it because it makes you happy.
    Chinupon December 01, 2004   Link

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