THIS IS OUR MUSIC: The Clash – “Clampdown”, Live at the Lewisham Odeon.
London Calling took on a lot of issues that were domestic in The Clash’s life, and “Clampdown” was one of the tracks closest to home for the outfit. It’s about the adult push on youth to “clampdown” and join the employment ranks right out of school.
In an interview with The LA Times around its release, Strummer and Simonon discussed how, despite differing economic backgrounds, they were both urged to fall in line and follow the rules. Simonon was taken to factories and Naval yards, while Strummer was pushed by a domineering father toward a house in the burbs and chasing the “golden apple”, as he called. They both knew this would be an empty life, and “Clampdown” urges youth to see the same. “What’re we gonna do now?” Strummer and Jones exemplify the topic’s trapped angst.
They don’t mince words as they growl, “It’s the best years of your life they want to steal/ You grow up and you calm down and you’re working for the clampdown.” It’s a fiery fuck you to parents and adults across the country and something we’ve found ourselves screaming … to ourselves ever since.
The Only Lyric That Matters: “You don’t owe nothing, so boy get running/ It’s the best years of your life they want to steal”.