Drug-Stabbing Time

Album: Give 'Em Enough Rope (1978)

Songfacts®:

  • "Drug-Stabbing Time" was first demoed at the Clash's rehearsal space, Rehearsal Rehearsals, in January 1978 and so was one of the first songs written for second album Give 'Em Enough Rope.
  • The lyrics written by singer Joe Strummer are fiercely anti-drugs, and describe in great detail the paranoia they can induce - not just from usage, but from the fear of getting caught, as the subject of the song does in an elaborate police sting ("I hear this car pull up outside, Comes to a stop like, skreeee", "Blackshoes on, No that's bad news, Here they come charging up the stairs alright, Sonny just tell us where").

    It's quite possible that Strummer had seen early rushes of the film Rude Boy, a film about a fictional roadie for The Clash and featuring lots of live Clash footage from 1977-79, where a subplot involves a drug bust. Or it's possible he was talking from personal experience - what makes the anti-drugs message ("Nobody wants a user, nobody needs a loser") hugely ironic is that members of the group, mainly guitarist Mick Jones, were heavily involved in drug usage at the time. Critic Marcus Gray noted that this fact serves "to rob it of much comedy value."
  • The song was debuted live on the On Parole tour in June 1978, and remained in the live set into 1979, which is better than most of the Give 'Em Enough Rope non-single tracks. The song was dropped after the Pearl Harbour tour, although it was revived for one last performance in Monterey in September 1979.

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