Protest 100: The Clash – ‘White Riot’

Artist:          The Clash

Song:           White Riot

Album:        The Clash

Producer:    Mickey Foote

Label:          CBS

Year:           1977 (US 1979)

Notes:
The Clash’s debut single lets you know what they had in store: short, sharp examinations of class divisions in a multiethnic world. It was written following Joe Strummer and bassist Paul Simonon’s experiences during the 1976 Notting Hill Carnival riots. The UK’s 1975 inflation rate was higher than 20%. Notting Hill was still working-class and inhabited by a mix of poor whites and Jamaican immigrants. The tinder was dry and heavy-handed policing of the annual event provided the spark.

As Strummer told NME: “The only thing we’re saying about the blacks is that they’ve got their problems and they’re prepared to deal with them. But white men, they just ain’t prepared to deal with them—everything’s too cosy. They’ve got stereos, drugs, hi-fis, cars. The poor blacks and the poor whites are in the same boat.”

Excerpt from ‘Unreality’  —
“Anyone inside the machine who might have opposed such measures was branded unpatriotic and drummed out at the next possibility.”

Lyrics:
White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own
White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own

Black man gotta lotta problems
But they don’t mind throwing a brick
White people go to school
Where they teach you how to be thick

And everybody’s doing
Just what they’re told to
And nobody wants
To go to jail

White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own
White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own

All the power’s in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it
While we walk the street
Too chicken to even try it

And everybody’s doing
Just what they’re told to
And nobody wants
To go to jail

White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own
White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own

Hey, you, standing in line
Are we gonna sign an agreement?

White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own
White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

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