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The Clash Songs - Know Your Rights Lyrics

Know Your Rights Lyrics By The Clash Songs Album: Combat Rock Year: 1982 This is a public service announcement With guitar Know your rights All three of t

The Clash - Know Your Rights
The Clash - Know Your Rights

The Clash - Know Your Rights Lyrics and Youtube Music Videos

Album: Combat Rock
Released: 1982

Know Your Rights Lyrics

This is a public service announcement
With guitar
Know Your Rights
All three of them

Number one
You have the right not to be killed
Murder is a crime
Unless it was done
By a policeman
Or an aristocrat
Oh, know your rights

And number two
You have the right to food money
Providing of course
You don't mind a little
Investigation, humiliation
And if you cross your fingers

Know your rights
These are your rights
Hey, say, Wang

Oh, know these rights

Number three
You have the right to free speech
As long as
You're not dumb enough to actually try it

Know your rights
These are your rights
Oh, know your rights
These are your rights
All three of 'em
It has been suggested in some quarters
That this is not enough

Get off the streets
Get off the streets

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

Know Your Rights
  • The lyrics to "Know Your Rights" are a very sarcastic look at oppression of the poor and working classes via limiting their human rights. Joe Strummer likely wrote them as a sarcastic response to a series of public service announcements in poor areas reminding the civilians of their basic human rights - this would certainly explain the "This is a public service announcement... WITH GUITARS!" introductory line.

    According to the lyrics, people only have three human rights:

    1) The right not to be killed, unless it is done by a policeman or an aristocrat (perhaps referencing two recent incidents, the deaths of Sunderland boxer Liddle Towers (see also The Angelic Upstarts' "The Murder Of Liddle Towers") and New Zealand schoolteacher Blair Peach in incidents involving police brutality).

    2) The right to food money - as long as you don't mind "a little investigation, humiliation, and if you cross your fingers, rehabilitation," a possible reference to the stricter tests and investigations one had to pass in order to receive welfare payments in the UK at the time.

    3) The right to free speech - "as long as you're not actually dumb enough to try it!"
  • The song was written in August/September 1981 at the Ear Studios, and was an obvious choice for both opening song on the Combat Rock record and leadoff single from the album, peaking at #43 on the UK Charts with the B-side "First Night Back in London." It became a popular live song from 1982 to 1984 with it's heavy drums and Rockabilly guitar breaks. A representative version recorded in Boston in September 1982 features on the From Here to Eternity live compilation.
  • The song has been covered numerous times, most famously by Pearl Jam, who regularly perform a live cover, as well as by General Soup Kitchen, The Cowans, The Frisk and Primal Scream.

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