If Music Could Talk

Album: Sandinista! (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • 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.

Comments: 1

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