English Civil War (song)

English Civil War (song)

English Civil War is a song by The Clash, featured on their second album Give 'Em Enough Rope, and released as a single.

The song is derived from an American Civil War song, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", written by Irish-born Massachusetts Unionist Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, which is in turn derived from the Irish anti-war song "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye". The American Civil War song was popular with both sides of the conflict.

Having learnt the song at school, Joe Strummer suggested the band update it. Those on the left saw the rise during the mid-1970s of far right groups such as the British National Front as alarming and dangerous omens for Britain's future. The song is about this state of politics in Britain and warns against all things uniformed and sinister - shortly after the song was first performed live at Rock Against Racism Joe Strummer said in an interview to the music newspaper Record Mirror:

"War is just around the corner. Johnny hasn't got far to march. That's why he is coming by bus or underground" (as in the song's lyrics).

The cover of the single is a still from John Halas' 1954 animated adaptation of George Orwell's Animal Farm.

It reached #25 on the British single charts and was covered in 1993 by The Levellers on The Julie EP.

The lyrics to The Clash's version vary greatly from the original.


Chart Peak
UK Singles Chart 25
Irish Singles Chart 29 Mar 1979

External links

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