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Tubthumping

by

Chumbawamba



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

In England, a tubthumper is a politician. The US equivalent of tubthumping is "going on the stump" (campaigning).
"To piss" has a different meaning in the UK than in the US - "Pissing the night away" would translate to "Drinking (alcoholic beverages) all night." To be pissed in England is to be drunk, to be pissed in the US is to be angry.
This was the only US Top 40 hit for Chumbawamba. The group is a collective dedicated to the destruction of the government of the United Kingdom.
The US publisher of their Tubthumper CD insisted on the group providing an attribution for every quotation in the liner notes. Because label management and the group were not totally successful in tracing the sources of the quotes, they removed them all and replaced them with a web address - chumba.com - so that Americans could read what was taken out of the CD packaging.
The group got its name from a story created by one of its members. In the story, the men were Chumbas, the women Wumbas.
The group took some criticism for this because it was one of their least political songs, yet it was their biggest hit. In 1989, they contributed songs to a compilation called "F-ck EMI," but they signed with EMI to release this. The band explained that they could reach a much wider audience if they went the major-label route. So much for anarchy. (thanks, Geert - Vlaardingen, Netherlands)
On the CD, there are interludes before and after this song and many other songs on the CD. The intro consists of some background music and dialogue. The dialogue is from the Brassed Off, a 1996 English movie not as well known in America. The dialogue is: "Truth is I thought it mattered. I thought that music mattered. But does it? Bollocks! Not compared to how people matter." (thanks, Nick - Paramus, NJ)
Homer Simpson sings this tune and alters a few of the lyrics in the "Little Girl Of The Big 10" episode of The Simpsons. (thanks, Chase - Pasadena, CA)
Chumbawamba
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Comments (29):

"The group took some criticism for this because it was one of their least political songs, yet it was their biggest hit" You can't please people eh? Of course their least political song will be their biggest hit because it's not going to be as polarising as all of the rest.
- Sioraf, Macroon, Ireland
Tubthumping has got nothing to do with being a politician. Tubthumping is going out and having drinks after taking part in a protest, rally or march. This is something which the Irish did against the English and is what the band are referring to.
- Stella, London, United Kingdom
The voice that raps 'He drinks a whiskey drink; he drinks a vodka drink...' sounds like John Cleese.
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
This is a song that, when you hear it, the lyrics stay stuck in your head sometimes for days.
- Camille, Toronto, OH
this sounds so motivating above all........lol lol lol lol lollo lolloollol btw
- Michael, DeRidder, LA
Actually in UK pissed can mean either drunk or angry, it's all in context.
- Mjn Seifer, Not listed for personal reason, England
For somebody who's not crazy about 90s music, I LOVE this song. It definitely gets me stirred up.
- LARRY, NEWTON, NC
To piss is to urinate in the UK too
- Luke, Manchester, England
I have always believed that there was a lot of political 'hinting around' in this song. Ireland telling England that they will never be kept down, and saying "don't cry for me, next door neighbor'
- Brian, Medway, OH
The song is one of their most basic songs in terms of meaning and the band themselves stated that it is just about getting drunk (he drinks a lager drink, he drinks a cider drink etc. "Going on the piss" is a UK expression that means going out specifically to get drunk.
- Andy, Sheffield, England
The bands name in related to an old saying old saying that if you give an infinite number of monkeys and infinite number of type writers one will produce the combined works of shakespeare. Apparently someone tried to do this once (obvously on a smaller scale) and the only legible word produced was Chumbawumba.
- Andy, Sheffield, England
Boy this reminds me of college. This song was everywhere in the fall of 97
- Mike, Hueytown , AL
At the end of the song a trumpet is playing the beginning of Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary. It's usually heard in processionals like weddings and royal proceedings.
- Lalah, Wasilla, AK
All deep thoughts aside, this song is an excellent demonstration of counterpoint used masterfully in pop music.
- Kieran, NYC, NY
To answer Adam, Bloomington, IN, in the beggining of the song they say "The truth is, I thought it mattered - I thought that music mattered. But does it? Bollocks! Not compared to how people matter." It's from a movie called 'Brassed Off' made in 1996, it has Ewan Mcgregor and Pete Postlethwaite in it.
- sarah, rowland heights, CA
This was the first non-sing along cd i bought when i was a kid. I dont remember ever listening to any other song on the cd though.
- norman, detroit, MI
They say something during the first 24 seconds of the song (on the version from Tubthumper) and I haven't been able to figure out what it is. Does anyone know?
- Adam, Bloomington, IN
HEEHEHEHEHEH, the idea of this song was to say never to surrender to life and the obstacles as the dude above said, remember 98's world cup? i mean they can't have as a theme song to make people beat other up, know what i mean?
- Camilo, Bogota, Chile
So does anybody know what "Tubthumping" means?
- Ian, Lethbridge, Canada
That's not what I thought they meant by "pissing the night away." To "piss" something away in American slang means to simply let something, like an opportunity or an inheritance, go to waste. So if you "pissed the night away," it means you probably sat around in a bar, drinking and doing nothing of any value that you could be proud of the next morning. As in, "I had a free night last week and I really planned to go visit some old friends. But I stopped in the bar instead and just pissed the night away." In that context, I imagined the song was about idle British youth sitting around in pubs drinking excessively instead of doing something worthwhile, like overthrowing the capitalist government.
- dirk, Nashville, TN
CORRECTION:

In the US, "pissing" means urinating. When this came out, many Americans believed that the chorus was talking about a guy "pissing the night away" because his bladder was full from drinking a lot of beer.

However, "pissed" does mean angry in the US, but that's not what should have been defined in the context of this song.
- Chris, Charleston, SC
I loved it that they threw a jug of water over John Prescott as some sort of statement (read publicity) and said they were justified doing it. Then the Daily Mirror (a British tabloid newspaper) had a whole bucket of iced water thrown over them at an airport and the band hated it and got really upset. Ha ha ha
- Rob, Hornchurch
hahaha i think this song is funny, cuz the band is actually a bunch of anarchists. w00t.
- Sam, Elkader, IA
this song isa not about fighting.. its about no matter how many obstacles life throws you, they'll get back up and do it again and again until you get it right
- Josh, Trenton, NJ
This song is usually thought to be about football hooliganism, not politics. That said, they are a very political band, and the song was pretty much hijacked for Englands Euro 96 campaign.

Oh, and the bands name was almost constantly misspelled as Chumbawumba. Its -wamba....
- Kian, Dublin, Ireland
This song, though many people's first contact with Chumbawamba, was not their debut release as popularly supposed. They were originally formed in 1982, and had released a dozen albums before "Tubthumping" came out. It was Chumbawamba's sole US Top 40 release, but in the UK, they fared rather better - after two near misses in 1994 and 1996, "Tubthumping" made No.2 in September 1997 (spending a formidable 12 weeks in the Top 10), and was the first of three big UK hits for the band - the others were "Amnesia" and "Top Of The World (Ole! Ole! Ole!)". On Christmas Day 1997, they sparked further controvesy by posting a general message on the internet saying that the Queen Mother was dead, and at 1998 Brit Awards, they were in the news again when they threw a bucket of water over the one of the UK's leading politicians, John Prescott. This period was the peak of Chumbabwamba's commercial success in Britain, but the band have continued to record with changed line-ups right until the present day.
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
I seen an interview with chumbawumba on tv when the song was int he charts, when asked how they came to be called chumbawumba, one of the band members replied that they had been to an experimental lab in america where apparantly monkeys were given typewriters. "chumbawumba" was a word one of the monkeys (or chimps) wrote. "apparantly"
- Darren, middlesbrough, England
This song is a great song if you want to get yourself pumped up for a fight or something like that, BUT I am not saying for you to listen to the song and go beat the sh*t out of someone, I am just saying that it's a great song to get someone going.
- Jared, Norwalk, OH
This song is crazy. Of course it reminds me of drinking, but also fighting. " I get knocked down, but I get up again your never gonna kep me down."
- Rebekah, Prince George, VA
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