The Clash. White Man In Hammersmith Palais. Forty Years Old.


I know every word. I’ve always known every word. Even before I heard it, I knew every word. It’s alienation. It’s envy. It’s rage. It’s having a dig at Weller. It’s about being cool. It’s about being gloriously uncool. It’s about being white but wishing you weren’t. It’s about being white but fearing you’re not doing it properly. It’s about pride. It’s about equality. It’s about fifteen minutes long. It may be the best song ever written. It’s reggae. It’s not reggae. It’s my past. It’s walking down Ridge Avenue one snow-covered February. It’s Strummer hoping and hurting. It’s me wishing I was Simonon. It’s built on our hopes: yours and mine. It’s what I want playing in the old people’s home as the carers throw balls at me.

Next time I meet you I’ll sing it to you. Every word.

3 thoughts on “The Clash. White Man In Hammersmith Palais. Forty Years Old.

  1. I’m interested to know; in what way is it ‘a dig at Weller’ ?

  2. The story goes the line ‘they’ve got Burton suits, they think it’s funny, turning rebellion into money’ was aimed at the Jam because Weller had upset Strummer at some gig. May of course be an urban myth…

    • Hard to believe Weller would ever have upset anybody, given his legendary calm and forgiving nature, but the Wikipedia article (if you can trust it) claims “Included is a jibe at an unnamed group who wear Burton suits, taken by many to be The Jam (though in an NME article of the time, Strummer claimed the actual target was the power pop fad hyped by journalists as the next big thing in 1978).”