If Music Could Talk

  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • The backing track to "If Music Could Talk" is in fact another one of the songs on the Sandinista! album: "Shepherd's Delight," which was recorded at Pluto Studios two months previously with producer Mikey Dread. The band decided to revisit the track, and singer Joe Strummer added a stream-of-consciousness set of lyrics about New York city, including a plethora of references to Joe Ely, Errol Flynn, singer Bo Diddley (whom The Clash had toured with in 1979), Buddy Holly, Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley's song "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"

    There are also personal references to The Clash themselves, including the Electric Lady studios they had worked, lighting engineer Warren "Stoner" Steadman, and his own "spliffbunker," which was a nest-type contraption Strummer built in whichever studio the band were recording in out of flight cases where he would sit and write songs in peace whilst recording took place elsewhere in the studio.
  • Production tricks abound on this song, as they do throughout the album. In this case, Joe Strummer double-tracked his vocals, putting one track in the left channel and another in the right to create an all-encompassing sound. Gary Barnacle, session musician and longtime friend of the band, added jazzy saxophone interludes when the song was recorded in Wessex studios in August 1980.
  • As it's possible to tell from the backing track complexity, this never featured in The Clash's live set, probably because the band just wouldn't be able to do it justice in concert.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 1

  • Doors from AustraliaThe song was recorded on the Sandinista! album with a dub styled counterpart: "Living In Fame"
see more comments

Jim McCarty of The YardbirdsSongwriter Interviews

The Yardbirds drummer explains how they created their sound and talks about working with their famous guitarists.

Into The Great Wide Open: Made-up MusiciansSong Writing

Eddie (played by Johnny Depp in the video) found fame fleeting, but Chuck Berry's made-up musician fared better.

George HarrisonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really steal George's wife? What's the George Harrison-Monty Python connection? Set the record straight with our Fact or Fiction quiz.

Macabre Mother Goose: The Dark Side of Children's SongsSong Writing

"London Bridge," "Ring Around the Rosie" and "It's Raining, It's Pouring" are just a few examples of shockingly morbid children's songs.

Matthew Wilder - "Break My Stride"They're Playing My Song

Wilder's hit "Break My Stride" had an unlikely inspiration: a famous record mogul who rejected it.

Phone Booth SongsSong Writing

Phone booths are nearly extinct, but they provided storylines for some of the most profound songs of the pre-cell phone era.