THIS IS OUR MUSIC: The Clash – “Rock the Casbah”

THIS IS OUR MUSIC: The Clash – “Rock the Casbah”.

“Rock the Casbah” was The Clash’s highest-charting single, and even put them in the top 10 on the US dance chart. It was a sensation, and along with “Should I Stay or Should I Go”, put punk music and The Clash in the forefront in the US.

What makes this song especially fantastic, however, is that, like “Complete Control”, it’s a big fuck you to their old/new manager Bernie Rhodes. They finished recording a longer track, and he said to them, “Does everything have to be as long as this raga,” to which Strummer responded in the rewritten version: “The King told the boogie-men, ‘You have to let that raga drop.’” 

From there, he penned a song about a king trying to stop the people from dancing and rocking out. Rhodes probably wasn’t too angry — after all, there was a pretty penny to be made behind every word — likely because he had no idea what it was about. And while Strummer was the schemer, the song really belonged to Headon, who tracked drums, bass, and keyboards, nabbing him a “Headon/The Clash” credit. A year or so later, Strummer would kick him out for being a heroin addict, so you take the good when you can.

The Only Lyric That Matters: “By order of the prophet/ We ban that boogie sound/ Degenerate the faithful/ With that crazy Casbah sound”.



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