1982 | Rock
Spotify | Amazon
"The king called up his jet fighters, he said you better earn your pay. -- Drop your bombs between the minarets, down the Casbah way. -- As soon as the Sharif, was Chauffeured outta there. -- The jet pilots tuned to, the cockpit radio blare. -- As soon as the Sharif was out of their hair, the jet pilots wailed."
- Hit #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- In the music video guitarist Mick Jones face is covered because he was "in a mood." He was becoming increasingingly dissatisfied with the band at that time.
- Armed Forces Radio broadcast it as the first song on it's service during Operation Desert Storm.
- Clearchannel put the song on a list of inappropriate songs for post 9/11 play.
THE HOT TAKES
So, here's a new take on rebellious music. Rather than "rising up" and "fighting for our rights," and "resisting until the end of time" and all that, here's a song about playing your music no matter what anyone else says. Shareef, an Arab title for leaders, is used here to show that even when those in power have banned your music, you should get your jam on anyway if you damn well want to. I also enjoy that the music is portrayed as infectious: the music spreads even into the temple crowd, in some ways subverting the totalitarian nature of the regime. I read that this song was about Iran in particular, but I'm not sure if that's true or not. Regardless of location, we can all dance a bit to spite the elites, can't we?
The Clash is probably my favorite punk band. They were able to hit the mainstream while also maintaining their anti-authoritarian message. They also had a level of musicality that is missing in much of punk. This song was a staple of my childhood and I’ve loved it ever since. It maintains it’s punk roots while also taking hold of an infectious pop sound. Inspired by floggings that took place in Iran for people listening to western music, this song tells a fantastical story of the people resisting that edict by continuing to listen. It illustrates the absolute uselessness of authoritarianism. Even in one of the most authoritarian regimes with legal, religious, and societal control, people find a way to live their lives around the laws. You can never legislate the perfect utopia, religious or otherwise. All you do is incentivize people to figure out how to break them. If you really believe your ideas are good then they deserve to be treated seriously and ethically. If you can't gain people's consent by appealing to their own self interest, then maybe your ideas aren't very good.
It's weird to me that The Clash is considered punk...or that most of that 70's/80's stuff is considered punk. It makes a little more sense when you see them getting into the political weeds like in this number. This incredibly danceable number...seriously this is punk? Anyway, this song has always fascinated me because I was never quite certain what it was getting at? There''s a degree to which i just always thought it was low key racist against semitic people. The characitures are strong enough in the video for sure. I think the real take away is how intertwined global geopolitics is. One big cluster****. For a nation founded on not getting into entangling alliances we really went out of our way to up the ante on them.