"Red Angel Dragnet" as written by Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon....
I come from a long way away
And I know a fine thing when I see it
See it
For the same reason no one ever pointed a telescope at the sun
Talking about the Red Angels of N-Y City

Who shot the shot?
Who got shot tonight?
Who shot the shot?
Who got shot tonight?

Not even five enforcement agencies can save their own
Never mind the people
Tonight it's raining on the Angels of the City (who got shot tonight?)
Did anyone prophesize these people?
Only Travis
Come in, Travis
"All the animals come out at night
Queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal (who got shot tonight?)
Some day a real rain will come and wash all the scum off the streets"

(Who got shot tonight?) the city knows

"Thank god for the rain to wash the trash off the sidewalk
Listen you screwheads, here is a man who would not take it anymore
A man who stood up against the scum, the filth
Now I see clearly"

Personally I know the alley
Where Jack feeds on the birds of night
Not even bubbies bicycling (two-by-two) can stop the blood and feathers flying

(Who got shot tonight?)
(Who got shot tonight?)
(Who got shot tonight?)

Wearing overalls and for once and for all
What is the dream?
I'll tell it
To live like they do in the movies?
San Juan, you listening?
Yeah, I bet you are
Hands up for Hollywood (hooray!), I hear you
Snappy on the air, hang in there, wall to wall
You saved the world, what else, you saved the girl
Chmpagne on ice, no stranger to Alcatraz to boot
Or strip it down, chop it a little
Being reasonable
Just freedom to move, to live
For women to take a walk in the park at midnight (who got shot tonight?)
Hey, but this is serious, she can't even get back home (who got shot tonight?)

Who shot the shot that popped the cop that chopped the cop and made him drop?
"One of these days, I'm gonna get myself organizized"

Lyrics submitted by aebassist

"Red Angel Dragnet" as written by Paul Simonon Joe Strummer

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Red Angel Dragnet song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentA friend told me the exact same thing about Taxi Driver. Then I actually saw the movie and that's not really how it concludes.
    Regarding the song, besides sounding like it's about Taxi Driver it also seems to reference the Guardian Angels which is a citizen's crime watch group started in NY who can be identified by their red barrets and jackets.
    Veechaon November 09, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is about the general attitude of street crime in the late 70's and early 80's. It uses topics such as Taxi Driver and the death of Frank Melvin as talking points. Like most songs by The Clash it isn't cut and dry. It is designed to make you think about more than one side to "the crime problem".

    This entire album is pretty much about the battle between the people and the authority and this song is no exception. It isn't made to get you to believe there is a right answer, but to think about how to find an answer. Police brutality and vigilante justice are both shitty solutions and this song is all about that.
    ender554on March 10, 2019   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is about an old movie called taxi driver the guys name is travis bickle he comes back to new york after being in the vietnam war hes disgusted at the amount of crime scum and prostitution he goes nuts and kills everybody
    aceospades91on April 25, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentshort andd sweet straigh to point no fluffing around bout deeper meaning or chord progressions aceospades91 u have left an awesome comment congrats (it not my fault it 6:36 in the morning i should probably be asleep night everyone).
    Cpt-Sensibleon April 22, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song seems to go in a lot of different directions. The main point I get from it is how paranoid politicians and police, who may themselves be doing a horrible job of controlling crime, feel threatened and will suddenly focus their attention on "vigilante" groups as they perceived the Guardian Angels to be.

    Travis from "Taxi Driver" was a bit nuts, but felt he had high morals. Driving his cab each night he sinks further as he watches the "scum and filth" take over the streets. Anyway, he ends up packing enough heat to make Rambo proud, killing a would-b thief, attempting to assassinate a politician, rescues 13 year old Jodie Foster from her life of prostitution by killing her pimp and various other enablers.

    Good show. Good song. Good point
    BubbaHoTepon March 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnother point...

    "Personally I know the alley Where Jack feeds on the birds of night"

    seems to pertain to Jack the Ripper as "birds of night" could mean ladies of the night aka prostitutes, the Ripper's victim of choice, which ties in again to the theme of 'Taxi Driver'
    BubbaHoTepon April 18, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAlthough it has quotes from Taxi Driver, the song is not about the movie.

    "According to author Marcus Gray, the song Red Angel Dragnet was inspired by the January 1982 shooting death of Frank Melvin, a New York member of the Guardian Angels." - from wikipedia.
    matthindrarron September 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentInspired yes, but that doesn't mean that it's entirely about that single event.
    GeneralAppoon April 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, the Clash did a sh+tload of gigs at Bond's Casino in NYC in the early 80s. This song is inspired, in part, by the Red Angels. They were a group of dudes (mostly) who were of Latino descent (mostly) who, in the absence of NY city's finest, rode the subway system and looked after ladies (mostly) who were harassed by f+ckwits. A bit like Travis with Jodie Foster's character in Taxi Driver (i.e., apart from the Latino and the subway bit) ....
    anthonyvw3on August 09, 2017   Link

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