Lost In The Supermarket

Album: London Calling (1979)
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Songfacts®:

  • Even in 1979, musicians were bemoaning the increased commercialization and information overload that was pervading society. That's apparent on this song.

    Joe Strummer of The Clash wrote the lyrics and Mick Jones sang lead. In the DVD Making of 'London Calling': The Last Testament, which came with the 25th anniversary edition of the album, Strummer said he wrote the lyrics imagining Jones' life growing up in a basement with his mother and grandmother.

    Interestingly, it also includes personal references to his own life growing up in a heavily suburban middle-class family ("We had a hedge back home in the suburbs, over which I never could see").
  • The Afghan Wings covered the song for the Burning London tribute compilation in 1999; this version includes singer Greg Dulli ad-libbing lyrics from other songs over the outro, including another Clash song "Train in Vain (Stand By Me)" and Ben E. King's "Stand By Me". Ben Folds also recorded a cover for the movie Over The Hedge. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • "Lost In The Supermarket" was first conceived and written in an actual supermarket under the block of flats Joe Strummer was living in at the time with his girlfriend Gaby Salter. While it was too small for Strummer to literally get "lost in the supermarket," he did note in a 1999 interview that the song "occurred to me as I stumbled around dazed by the color and the lights." This would certainly explain the heavy themes of commercialism in the lyrics ("I'm all tuned in, I see all the programs, I save coupons from packets of tea").
  • Discussing the recording of the song, drummer Topper Headon mentioned in a 1991 interview that the night before, he saw the Blues guitarist Taj Mahal play. "His drummer played a lot of snare beats on the floor tom," said Headon. "When I went in the next day I thought that sounded good last night, I'll use it on this song."
  • Although the multi-layered production on the record (including layered funk basslines from Paul Simonon) made the studio track a lush piece, it made the song difficult to play live, and only a handful of performances in exist from the few times they played it in 1983.

Comments: 5

  • Tony from San DiegoOne of rock's most under rated cuts. Try and play what Topper does on drums cleanly and with that slick cut groove.
  • Jeff from London, United KingdomStrummer once described this song as the best song Paul Weller never wrote.
  • Ross from Leicester, United KingdomStrummer said he wrote it about Jone's childhood but supposedly it's actually more about his own growing up in suburbia. I've read a lot of Clash/Strummer interviews over the years and stories and explanations tended to change from inerview to interview! I even saw an interview where he claimed to remember chanting "Thatcher!Thatcher! Milk snatcher!" in the school playground (a reference to Margaret Thatcher as education secretary stopping free school milk). Strummer would have been about 20 years old at the time!!
  • Scott from Boston, MaThis is my favorite Clash song along with "Straight to Hell". Such an awesome song.
  • Brad from Long Island, Ny"I wasn't born, so much as I fell out". Classic
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