Ghetto Defendant

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  • This song was initially written and rehearsed in September 1981 at Ear Studios. The guest vocal on the finished track is the famous beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who The Clash met earlier in the year when he joined the band onstage at one of their New York residency shows in June to recite some poetry with the band, providing an impromptu musical backing (referred to in bootlegs as "Capital Air"). Ginsberg then dropped in to the Combat Rock sessions with the initial aim of getting The Clash to provide musical backing to several of his recordings, but in the end the opposite transpired and he was invited to add a "voice of God" vocal to "Ghetto Defendant."

    Singer Joe Strummer remembers that "Ginsberg wrote his own bit to 'Ghetto Defendant' but he had to ask us what were the names of punk dances. He just did it on the spot, it was good."
  • "Ghetto Defendant" was a popular part of the Clash's live set from September 1981 through 1982, despite Ginsberg not always being able to perform his section - Clash aide Kosmo Vinyl likely performed Ginsberg's sections at shows.
  • Ginsberg's rap includes a reference to his own personal favorite poet, the existentialist Arthur Rimbaud (1854-91). According to Ginsberg's biography, several sessions and collaborations were recorded but this was the only song that was ever released.
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