THIS IS OUR MUSIC: the Clash – “Know Your Rights”

THIS IS OUR MUSIC: the Clash – “Know Your Rights”

Combat Rock opener “Know Your Rights” is a de facto manifesto for The Clash. After Strummer screams out, “This is a public service announcement … with guitars,” the band lays out three inalienable rights of those under the foot of authority: “Have the right not to be killed … unless it was done by a policeman or aristocrat,” “Have the right to food,” providing you don’t mind humiliation, and “have the right to free speech” if you have the balls to try it. The music is sparse and simple, but its monotony pushes Strummer’s sarcastic sermon far beyond the black pulpit and into the proletariat. It’s as pissed off as the band had been since their debut and was the perfect way to start off what would be their last album as a full band.

The Only Lyric That Matters: “You have the right to free speech/ As long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it”.




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