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Monday, 4 December 2017

You Said You Stand By Your Man



Under Bernie Rhodes' tuition Joe Strummer and The Clash were encouraged to write about the world around them, real things that mattered. Joe said as far as love songs were concerned ''subject covered'' and he had a tendency to be a bit sniffy about Mick's love songs. But as Viv Albertine pointed out in her autobiography Clothes Music Boys in some ways it's Mick's love songs that have been among the most enduring of The Clash's tunes, Train In Vain and Should I Stay Or Should I Go among them.

Train In Vain was a last minute addition to London Calling, added right at the end after the sleeves had been printed (which added to the notion that the group were embarrassed about love songs). It was also intended for an NME flexidisc but that never happened so onto London Calling it went. Train In Vain rides in on a railway rhythm and Mick's twin riffs- harmonica and guitar- and the country and western inspired lyric, which may be about Mick's relationship with Viv which broke down around the time of the London Calling sessions. It was also the first single that got into the top 30 in the USA, the country they were bored with and enthralled by. Throughout his time as leader of Big Audio Dynamite Mick barely wrote a love song, in either incarnation of the band- in fact I can't think of a single one off the top of my head.

I saw on Twitter over the weekend that it is now 6 years since the Mick Jones/Pete Wylie/The Farm tour that played Clash songs up and down the country. It was a great moment to see Mick play Train In Vain and do his little shuffle and grin on stage at The Ritz. Later on Ian Brown and John Squire turned up for the encore, their first appearance on stage together since announcing the Roses reunion. Train In Vain is a great little song, one which always raises a cheer when I hear it.

Train In Vain


7 comments:

drew said...

It is indeed a great song.

jonder said...

I read somewhere that it was about Mick's relationship with Ellen Foley. Ancient history to all parties rumored to be involved...

charity chic said...

Well worth shoe horning it into London Calling

Echorich said...

Train In Vain, when all is said and done is The Clash song that still stuns me to this day. It is massive. It may be a love, or love lost song, but it is still "political." It's just that the politics is personal/interpersonal. But its urgency, its strength is very much The Clash at their best.

Karen Clarke said...

I adore this track. I have phases of loving other tracks but I always come back to this one.

Brian said...

I can't imagine London Calling without Train in Vain. Wouldn't want to either.

Swiss Adam said...

I'm glad there's so much love out there for Train In Vain.