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The Clash Songs - Jail Guitar Doors Lyrics

Jail Guitar Doors Lyrics By The Clash Songs Album: The Clash US Year: 1978 Let me tell you 'bout Wayne and his deals of cocaine A little more every day Ho

The Clash - Jail Guitar Doors
The Clash - Jail Guitar Doors

The Clash - Jail Guitar Doors Lyrics and Youtube Music Videos

Album: The Clash US
Released: 1978

Jail Guitar Doors Lyrics

Let me tell you 'bout Wayne and his deals of cocaine
A little more every day
Holding for a friend till the band do well
Then the D.E.A. locked him away

Clang clang, go the Jail Guitar Doors
Bang bang, go the boots on the floor
Cry cry, for your lonely mother's son
Clang clang, go the jail guitar doors

An' I'll tell you 'bout Pete, didn't want no fame
Gave all his money away
"Well there's something wrong, it'll be good for you, son"
And so they certified him insane

And then there's Keith, waiting for trial
Twenty-five thousand bail
If he goes down you won't hear his sound
But his friends carry on anyway
Fuck 'em!
Jail guitar doors
Fifty four/forty six was my number
Jail guitar doors
Right now someone else has that number

Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Jail Guitar Doors
  • "Jail Guitar Doors" started life as a song written by singer Joe Strummer for his previous band, the 101ers, either as presently titled or given the different title "Lonely Mother's Son" - reports vary. Strummer brought the song with him to The Clash, but wasn't comfortable with playing it in his new band as he wanted a totally clean cut from the past. It was only in late 1977 that guitarist Mick Jones revisited the song and rewrote the lyrics, eventually having the band re-record it at CBS Studios in September of that year. Roadie Johnny Green remembers the session, and stated that "that funny noise at the beginning is the hi-hat, which was bent. We amplified it right up and everyone loved it."
  • Musically, the song takes cues from the New York Dolls' back catalogue, as well as David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel." The closing refrain is a direct lift of Toots and the Maytals' "54-46 That's My Number."
  • The three verses tell the story of one guitarist who gets in trouble for drug possession, which ties together with the sadness and regret of the chorus; seeing people you look up to throw their lives away in such fashion ("Clang clang, go the jail guitar doors, bang bang, go the boots on the floor").

    The first verse mentions a character called Wayne ("Let me tell you 'bout Wayne and his deals of cocaine, a little more every day"), which is likely a reference to the MC5's Wayne Kramer.

    The second verse discusses the fate of a Peter ("An' I'll tell you 'bout Pete, didn't want no fame, gave all his money away"), which is more than likely Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green.

    The final verse is about a Keith ("And then there's Keith, waiting for trial, twenty-five thousand bail") which is very clearly The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards.

    All three men were guitar heroes of Mick Jones growing up, so it would make sense that the "what a shame" feel of the lyrics would relate to Jones' own feelings upon seeing his childhood heroes locked up. After his own drug bust in July 1978, Jones would add a fourth verse into live performances discussing his hope that he doesn't end up meeting the same fate as his heroes.
  • The first live performance of the song came in Zurich in October 1977, a month after it was recorded, and it remained a solid feature of The Clash's live set for the next 18 months (including with Jones' self-inflicted extra verse after July 1978). It would later be released as the B-side to the "Clash City Rockers" single in 1978, and would only appear on the US version of The Clash's self-titled first album. It would eventually get a UK release on Super Black Market Clash, and in the enormous Singles Box compilation in 2006.
  • A number of artists have covered this song, including the Rockabilly band The Caravans in 2003, and Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke for his first solo album Pawnshop Guitars in 1994. This version featured other members of Guns N' Roses, as well as Pixies vocalist Frank Black and freelance guitarist Ryan Roxie.
  • The popular folk musician Billy Bragg used the title "Jail Guitar Doors" as the name for his independent initiative with the aim of providing musical equipment and funding recording projects in prisons and for ex-inmates to help use music as a way of rehabilitating prisoners and ex-convicts. A US version of the Jail Guitar Doors initiative was set up by Wayne Kramer (apropos considering his name-check in the original song) with much the same aim: to use music and performing to help rehabilitate prisoners and cut down on prison violence.

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