Clash Fans: All aboard the Train in Vain..?


Mai 28 2007, 15h42

Hello everyone!

(DISCLAIMER: this turned out to be a very long blog.. please, comment when you've read all of it. I'd like to dicuss it with you. Hmm, now I won't get any comments because I don't think anyone can be bothered to read all of this ^^ But if you do, thank you very muchos. Good Karma, baby. You'll be rewarded for it sooner or later.)

I'm seeing Paul this summer (August 17) performing with TGTBTQ! I'm looking forward to it very much (I thought about going to England or France or Switzerland to see him play, but now I don't really have to because he's coming to the Netherlands!) and I had an "I miss Joe" moment the other day, so I really want to write about the clash right now and share my clash-love ^^

I don't know if any of you ever go to their page, but I noticed that there's a bit of a discussion going on at the moment about Train in Vain (cf. the shoutbox).

Anywho, I'm writing this because I don't agree with the people who say that "clash fans" can't say thatTrain in Vain is their favourite song. Okay, if Train in Vain is the ONLY clash song they know, and therefore they favourite, I get what you're saying. But that's not the case. This discussion is about people who know more clash-songs and who happen to like Train in Vain too.

So, anyway, what is "a clash fan"? There's just so many different people, you can't say when someone is a fan or not. I tried to think like other Clash fans, and I still found it to be quite difficult to figure out the favourite-song-of-a-clas-fan. You'll see why, I hope.

What's the favourite song of a clash fan, is it:

1. A very obscure track? like Mark Me Absent because only FANS of the clash know that song?

2. A B-side? like Mustapha Dance because that's the other half of Rock The Casbah and it's only available on Super Black Market Clash, so a) you must be a clash fan if you own that album, and b) you must be a fan if you actually took the time and effort to listen to the other half of Rock the Casbah, because a REAL clash lover conciders the first half of it to be dreadful!

(I can hear some of you thinking: "The Clash sold out man! Rock the Casbah? That song is just way too popular! Fuck the Casbah if you ask me! A clash fan can't say that that Mustapha Dance is their favourite song, right?! Topper wrote that tune for fucks sake! A real clash fan only likes A Strummer/Jones song.. and well, okay.. Guns of Brixton is alright too, because Paul is a shy and hot cutie with a nice accent... and wow, reggae! Punk/reggae mix! And the song is on London Calling! A real clash fan LOVES london calling. Best record of the eighties.. yeah!")

3. A Clash MkII song ? like We are the Clash because only a clash fan would buy Cut the Crapand say it's still a Clash album, even though half of the classical line up got sacked by then.. Clash-love till the end, mate!

4. A "Green Record" song ?, like Career Opportunities, because that's when they were PUNK! That's how they started! A real clash fan only likes their first album songs, that band is punk after all, innit? Also, a real clash fan thinks of a cool album title for the first clash album.

5. A Give 'Em Enough Rope song ? like Guns on the Roof because that's one UNDERRATED album! Only a clash fan could appreciate the sheer beauty of it!

6. A Song with Mick-vocals? because first of all, only a fan can say if it's Mick singing or Joe and second, liking a Mick-song must mean that you know the other bandmembers aswell, not just their "official" frontman, Joe Strummer. That's a real fan!

7. A London Calling song? Not London Calling or Train in Vain, mind you, because they have had lots of airplay and everyone knows them, and their other songs are more political and about what goes on in the world, you know. So a song like The Card Cheat is probably a safe pick if you want people to know that you're a Clash fan!

(Clash fan #6 would probably like you too with that answer. But you'd probably have a row with Clash Fan #4 about who's more into the Clash!)

8. A "sell-out" song? like Should I stay or Should I go, because only someone who's a Clash fan doesn't need to prove that by talking about unknown songs, and only a clash fan can proudly say: "My favourite song is SISOSIG.* This song's the reason that other people bought their albums and listened to their revolutionary music! I'm really happy for them that they finally got the fame they deserved."

(* A clash fan will never say "should I stay or should I go", it's just too long. SISOSIG will do.. and only other real clash fans will know what you're talking about!)

My opinion
I hope you guys understand my point. I know my writing is a bit confusing, and don't take everything too serious/literally. I just think that there's no way that a favourite track can tell whether you're a clash fan or not. There is NO clash fan, there are different kinds of fans. Who know, you might not be a real clash fan to some people, even though YOU think that you're the most greatest fan of all.

Anywho. I actually LIKE train in vain a lot. It's not my favourite song, but it definitely is one of my favourites.

Fair enough, Train in Vain is a love song, but so what? The clash were about things that happen in the world, they wrote about what affected them. I think that love is a part of that too, don't you? They didn't do a lot of love songs ("too much songs have written about love already (..) The news is news, so it's not boring") why make such a fuss about it? It's not the end of the world to like a love song.

By the way, Fan #9 could say that being a clash fan means that a clash fan doesn't like ONE sort of song and one sort only (their political/love/punk/backwards/jazz/honkytonk/etc. songs), but also the other songs they did.

Have you ever heard that drum intro? It's fantastic! I don't know how Tops does it, but it's brilliant! Have you ever heard how Mick's voice cracks when he goes: "lieieieieieieieiie" for the first time on, I think, one of the bootlegs? Have you ever watched the train in vain video and seen that Joe yells something at mick during the solo? Have you figured out what he's yelling? If you have, tell me, because I've watched that video a hundred time and I still don't know!

You see, train in vain isn't JUST a love song. It's like their other songs. The more you listen to it, the more you hear/see, you notice those little things that you hadn't noticed before. That's why I like this song! Not to mention that it's the song that cheers me up when I'm so disappointed in people ("You didn't stand by me, no not at all"), and don't forget: this GREAT song was written, rehearsed and recorded in one day. Not many bands can do that.

I think a lot of people who in the clash shoutbox think I'm not a clash fan. So be it. For those of you who wonder what kind of fan I am: I think I'm Clash Fan 10.

10.almost all of their songs , although they're too scared to listen to cut the crap because that was without Mick, and they just can't imagine the Clash without Mick. This fan talks to every kind of clash fan, just like The Clash did. Writes blogs about the Clash when she should actually be revising for geography. Buys books about the clash. Cried about Joe Strummers death. This person has figured out where Paul Simonon and Mick Jones live, but is too scared to send them a "thank you for everything" letter, because she doesn'T want them to think she's a stalker. But she should, because the Clash changed her life and they deserve a fucking thank you for that.

That's all I have to say for now ^^

bye bye x


  • JaiCle

    Nice post. I do really feel that I fit the #9 description. I think that is part of the lesson from London Calling: liking (or disliking) the songs by themselves and not by their classifications (punk/rock/country/polka/reggae/whatever).

    Mai 29 2007, 0h09
  • indy-kid

    I've only particularly listened to the album London Calling, although I have Combat Rock too. I will get round to listening to the latter as LC is amazing. Therefore, I am a Clash fan. And my favourite track is Rudie Can't Fail, or London Calling. There you go, I said it! My favourite song of theirs is their most famous and possibly best. Interesting blog though!

    Mai 29 2007, 0h11
  • GhostyGhost

    What a well-thought-out post :) I happened to come across it via the shoutbox, where I was suprised to see the Train in Vain debate. See, I've had LC for about a year and half now, but none of their other albums. I would consider myself a Clash fan, though there are many more albums I consider more important to get before any more Clash ones. As long as I've had LC I think Train in Vain has been my favourite, and I really didn't know that it was popular or received much airplay. I just think it is a fantastic song, and just because it was made by a band that is known for other styles doesn't mean it can't be one of their best songs. Good on you for going against the fools who try to dictate what a band's best song is or what people shouldn't like.

    Mai 29 2007, 12h48
  • Strummerjones

    What annoys me with this whole thing is that The Clash are one of the most varied and interesting bands out there, with a huge range of sounds and ideas in their music. Yet that all gets ignored for the same couple of songs. The best example is probably (Whiteman) In Hammersmith Palais. A watershed moment in British music, it's a staggeringly smart song. Lyrically it's brilliant, a despondent and soul seeking state of the nation address that takes extreme disillusionment and comes out fighting and triumphant. It's about the excitement of going to a supposedly underground reggae show - a real counter-culture movement that many hoped to bond with punk - and seeing the reality of a slick machine that the money makers had already co-opted. Of seeing ladies getting their handbags stolen by thugs and nary a jot of unity. The dirt behind the daydream. Where to go from there? It's about punk being ruled by increasing levels of violence and idiocy when the Clash wanted to reach out to people with a message of understanding, and about the Jam telling everyone to vote conservative and supposedly betraying that trust. It's about the celebrity and reverence afforded to even the worst examples of humanity as long as they were in positions of power (remember Pinochet coming to London around 15 years later?). It's about not necessarily having the answers to any of this mess, but being worried about it anyway and saying what do you think?. Musically it's also excellent, a groundbreaking amalgam of reggae and punk with a great finale that still gives me chills when Mick's sweeping guitar riffs starts. Surely this is one of the greatest songs of all time. Then we have Train in Vain. It's a song thrown together in an afternoon (which is why it wasn't even credited on the album originally) with some nice drums and a weak lyric about the same crap you already heard in 50000 other love songs by bands who could actually write GOOD love songs (if there is such a thing, frankly). That's all there is to it. Train in Vain is the best song by the Clash.

    Mai 29 2007, 14h14
  • Libertines_Love

    too much songs have written about love already (..) The news is news, so it's not boring I love the interview that quote came from Joe, come on, put the teddy down! =') That blog's very.. woaw, it makes me think. I can't tell what kind of Clash-fan I am, maybe I'm Clash-fan #11 =) It's so funny, when I bought London Calling and had only heard 3 Clash-songs, I was with my mum and she wanted me to first listen to it, though I was quite sure I was gonna buy it. Train In Vain was the first song that made me dance with the headphones on right in the shop (also the last, then, because i't's kind of the last of the album =')). It was the first song I remembered the name of, apart from London Calling, because it was the title-track of the album. And it was also the first Clash-one I could play on my guitar =) I never really think of the song these days. But now I had to =) great piece anyway. (woah, I could've written a reaction-on-corners-blog-blog. sorry about the long comment =D)

    Mai 30 2007, 15h33
  • luishernando

    I love the green album.

    Jun 2 2007, 10h37
  • CornerSoul

    Sorry I couldn't reply to your comments earlier.. Hmm, anywho, thanks everyone for replying :) Ooh.. this is going to be a very long reply == StrummerJones: Bit Offtopic: Nice to hear that you like White Man so much. Maybe you'll know the answer to the question that's been bugging me for a long time: Is it Topper drumming? (I've always thought it was him) but then I read somewhere that it's not Topper but Chimes, so now I'm quite confused. Ontopic: Well, I do understand what you're saying. I have to say that I also think White Man is a better song than Train in Vain, for the reasons you mentioned in your comment. (Shock and horror.. I like white man AND train in vain a lot! :O) Anyway, this discussion was about Clash fans and favourite songs. What I tried to show with my blog is that people have different reasons to like a song, and therefore they have different reasons to like a band. If you want to talk about a favourite / good song, I think the first thing you'll have to know is why X is someone else's favourite song. There's no point in discussing songs if you don't know what constitutes a good song in their opinion. I've also heard people say that they think Train in Vain's got great lyrics, simple, but to the point. No Nonsense. Some people can relate to Train in Vain. Some fans like it because it's a catchier song. I mean, you may think that they love the band for the wrong reasons, but that still doesn't change the fact that they LOVE the band. And I've always tought that a fan is a person who loves a band. I've heard people say that they dislike White Man because of Joe's voice on that song, because they don't like reggae, because they think ha, you think it's funny, turning rebellion into money is a very hypocrit thing to say.. You seem to dislike Train in Vain because it's got weak lyrics, because it was thrown together in an afternoon, etc, fair enough. I don't agree with you, nor with the White Man dislikers, but who am I to say You're not a clash fan!? I don't want to tell people what they should or shouldn't listen to, because I don't know what they feel when they listen to music and I don't know what they hear when they listen to the lyrics. To make a long story short: The Clash wrote songs to reach people, different kinds of people, lots of people, people who like and dislike different things. Some people get a nice fee +ling inside when they hear train in vain.. others get that feeling when they hear the ohhoooohoooo bit in White Man. I quote paul,mick and joe: Our songs are for everyone. Enough said.

    Jun 6 2007, 19h07
  • scaredofclowns

    Great thread. Favorite Clash song? Let's do this by albums: The Clash - I'm So Bored with the USA Give 'Em Enough Rope - Tommy Gun Black Market Clash - Gates of the West London Calling - The Right Profile (a song about Montgomery Clift in his last days as a homeless man on the streets of NY? Nothing more to say) and I'm Not Down. That's two songs, but it's one of the best rock albums of all time, so I took some license Sandanista! - Charlie Don't Surf (taking a line from aruguably one of the best battle scenes in movie history - from Apocalypse Now, when Duvall and company coming swooping out of the sky in helicopters blaring Wagner's Flight of the Valkyries as they bomb a seaside village, and Duvall tells the surfer soldier from L.A. to go surf the point, and the kid says, But sir, Charlie don't surf! Amazing song, amazing message. Also, Rebel Waltz - hanuting. Combat Rock - Straight to Hell Cut the Crap - This Is England Bonus Favorite - Arms Aloft by Strummer and The Mescaleros. Favorite show: Hollywood Palladium, Spring 1983 on the Combat Rock tour - band was still all together. Best concert I've ever seen. With The English Beat - they played five nights because they refused to play the big arena. That was so Joe.

    Jun 7 2007, 4h52
  • Nellie123

    Hi, great blog. I see you're like me, too young to witness the movement at the time. But slowly discovering the fantastic music produced by The Clash. You think you've listened to every great Clash song - then you discover the likes of Sandinista! and it blows you away. And then you've the life after The Clash, the Mescaleros & BAD. There's too many great Clash songs, sprawling too many genres to have any single defining Clash fan or song. Long as you love the music.

    Jun 9 2007, 4h34
  • Strummerjones

    Topper playing on Hammersmith Palais/Prisoner - Passion Is A Fashion says yes (Terry Chimes had left by then). I don't [i]hate[/i] Train In Vain, but it's the most feeble commercial song on the album. If someone hand on heart can listen to all (or at least most) of the Clash's output and tell me that they like TIV in best, then they're listening to the wrong band. They probably also don't really like The Clash and just say they do to sound cool. The Clash were never about inclusion, no matter what the Sony PR spin may be these days. They were a punk band for God's sake! They drew their line in the sand and you either got it or you didn't. If Train in Vain is your favourite Clash song, you don't get it. No loss, you can always go listen to Wham or something. As a digression, I wish there was more debate like this on! The forums are empty and were killed stone dead by the useless shout boxes which just means people post useless emoticons and glib soundbites at each other. Anti communication!

    Jun 10 2007, 0h04
  • Nellie123

    Tunnel vision is the enemy of good music. Whether it’s jazz or punk or anything else, you have to fight against the purists who want to narrow the definition. That’s what kills music because it stifles it to death. [align=right]Joe Strummer[/align]

    Jun 10 2007, 4h12
  • daydream_juliet

    Hi! Very interesting blog, thank you! *At least somebody has created the journal related to music)* [quote]So a song like The Card Cheat is probably a safe pick if you want people to know that you're a Clash fan! [/quote] I'm not as big clash fan as you, but I really love this song=)+ Koka kola and Brand new cadillac are my favourites too. I love LC, I used to play it on repeat, but the only song from it I skipped was Train in vain

    Jun 12 2007, 14h23
  • HenkeStrummer

    I don't get your point, really...The Clash was, and is, the greatest band ever. I hope you was pretty ironic when you wrote this, you should adore it all...and remember, it's only OK to say classify fans of any sorts if you're 14 years old and think that you're king of the world. And you aren't...And sell out?!? WTF!?!

    Jun 15 2007, 16h16
  • CornerSoul

    [Quote] I don't get your point, really.[/quote] I can see that, lol :') I'll quote myself again, because I think you're missing the point completely: I just think that there's no way that a favourite track can tell whether you're a clash fan or not. There is NO clash fan, there are different kinds of fans. So errm, that part explains my point of view quite well, I think. So no, I don't think I'm the king (or queen, in my case) of the world :') And I wasn't being ironic, I was trying to think like 9 other people ^^

    Jun 16 2007, 21h20
  • Kamzii

    Interesting blog, and good, too! I think I'm most likely number 10, but I don't write blogs about The Clash. :) I own every album, and I like them all really much. Only Sandinista! was something I've to listen a lot before it started to sound good, although some songs from that album were wonderful when I first heard them. I've dreamed about writing to Mick and Paul, or seeing them somewhere. I'm really envious to you 'cos you are going to see Paul! I don't believe TGTBTQ is coming to Finland. :( Only Clash- song I don't like is Spanish Bombs. I don't know why. Maybe I have to listen it more. We are so lucky 'cos we have The Clash. =)

    Jun 18 2007, 10h57
  • Misfit_Pistol

    To be honest, I love songs where Mick sings, and coming from another musicians point of view, my favourites are Career Oppurtunities, Julie's Been Working for the Drug Squad, Janie Jones, Armagideon Time, and theres loads more. I love a lot of the Clash's reggae stuff that they made, almost more than the punk stuff they did, Armagideon Time and Bankrobber are classics, however you can't beat songs like White Riot, Career Oppurtunities and so on. I want to thank you for making this blog, to be honest it's one of the best things I've read in a long time on this website. Thanks again.

    Jun 18 2007, 12h10
  • Nelvis

    Firstly i always feel embarrassed when i see someone writing in their second language doing it so eloquently. as an old clash fan i must admit i have never heard anything off cut the crap apart from 'this is england' which was enough to stop me listening further. But if it had been any other group i think i would of. Blur without graham coxon i was quite happy to check out their new album for instance, but the clash without mick jones - no way. For me, my favourite song would be janie jones - it is the perfect opening to a first album, which oasis and stone roses also managed to pull off, as its their announcement that they are here, and from later on, spanish bombs, as thats when they started looking outside the Uk at political causes, and made me do the same. all i can say is that i wouldnt be the same person if i hadnt heard the clash -and i like to think they made me a better person, and theres not many musicians you can say that of. Never heard 'mark me absent ' mind , i guess the clash thought it was too shit to put out ...and they put out mensworth hill!

    Jul 21 2007, 0h52
  • Absolutbestever

    Very interesting blog post! I arree with your points an I think I'm a #9 too. My father's been playing their first two albums for me all the time growing up. Then I've moved on myself in the later years. I'm gonna copy scaredofclowns idea, and post the favorites by album: The Clash (UK)- Janie Jones or Career Opportunities Give 'Em Enough Rope - Safe European Home (with Tommy Gun and Stay Free as runner ups) The Clash (US) - Complete Control or (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais. I'll go with the latter. Black Market Clash - Bankrobber/Robber dub (A hard one, since i rate Pressure Drop as their best cover. Capital Radio One is also really awesome.) London Calling - The Guns of Brixton. The whole album is great and I rate all the tracks almost equally. I guess Guns of Brixton stands out just by not being a Strummer/Jones. Sandanista! - Hitsville U.K. My sister hates me for this, she doesn't think it's a clash song since none of the guys sings. While on the topic, Lose this skin is also great. Combat Rock - Know Your Rights Cut the Crap - This Is England (Easiest pick.) Bonus Favorite - Coma Girl by Strummer and The Mescaleros.

    Jul 22 2007, 13h22
  • Strummerjones

    Just Jack gets the last word: This is exactly why real Clash fans sneer at TIV lovers. Man I love Joe Strummer's vocals on that song! Prick.

    Jul 22 2007, 17h13
  • buenaventura

    my fave clash-album is probably sandinista, my fave clash-song is a draw between stay free, bankrobber, white man in hammersmith palais, straight to hell, broadway, clash city rockers, guns of brixton, one more time and deny. not sure why i'm even posting this.

    Ago 1 2007, 10h01
  • sedewakantysta

    Cunning text, really, my congrats! Golly gosh, I've just discovered that I suit to more than one 'fan pattern' You've described. Well, I've known (and loved) the Clash for more than one year (not much), at first it was infatuation for SISOSIG and Rock the Casbah [Fan #8], possibly because I had known them before, then I listened to London Calling and loved it even more, especially I'm not down [Fan #6 and #7]. Lately I've been in mood for some more punkish songs and got lost in their first album [Fan #4], but most recently I've been listening through Give'em enough rope [Fan #5]. Funny enough I can't tell their one best song or even top ten, it would have to be at least top thirty...damn I even like such 'non-clashish' songs like Lose this Skin or Version City... And, just like You, I can't imagine Clash without Mike so for now I steer clear of Cut the Rope, maybe in future I'll dare to examine it. As for Your list of fans, I'd add Fan # 11 - Live Performances Lover (Complete Control from From Here to Eternity is brilliant!) *Sorry for this chaotic post I'm not fond of ordering my crude thoughts...All in all, all the best, You Clash-maniac, (over 5,000 Clash songs? Insanity!)

    Set 5 2007, 11h34
  • RatDay

    TIV is a fine song, as are almost all of the songs on the four best albums. (Rope and CTC are the two I do not like.) Just Jack thinking this was Strummer's vocal is hilarious, but it's pretty stupid to criticize an entire song just because one guy doesn't know what he's talking about. It's a much better song than Should I Stay or Should I Go (I'm not going to say SISOSIG). You'd think you would've put the Sandinista-lover as another hypothetical type of Clash fan. I definitely consider that to be the album most representative of who the Clash were, and I consider it to be their best. But the real point here is that TIV is a really good song, regardless of how pop it is. So is Rock the Casbah.

    Jan 5 2008, 20h00
  • 107reasonswhy

    Train in Vain is a good song on a great album. For me it's up there with Hateful, Rudie Can't Fail, Spanish Bombs, Lost in the Supermarket and Guns of Brixton.

    Jan 15 2008, 23h08
  • Omniarch

    Gates of the West is the best Clash song, but Sandinista! is the best album.

    Fev 11 2008, 8h10
  • kateatsmouse

    I think I've gotten the point. And I can't saw I've never been those kind of people (that kind of a person?) towards other bands, but I don't think I have been for the Clash. I wasn't really aware it was bad to like Train in Vain. Its not my favorite, but I like it. I don't really have an ultimate favorite, but I guess Jail Guitar Doors, Clampdown, and Career Oppurtunites come close to the top of the heap. I learned bass by playing along with these songs... P.S. catchy blog title btw

    Mai 23 2008, 15h12
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