Down In The Tube Station At Midnight

Album: All Mod Cons (1978)
Charted: 15
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Songfacts®:

  • This anti-racism song was a first-person narrative about a brutal mugging by jackbooted right-wing thugs in London. Despite having a BBC airplay ban due to its "disturbing nature," it became The Jam's second UK Top 20 hit. The then Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn complained that, "It's disgusting the way punks sing about violence. Why can't they sing about trees and flowers?"
  • In his teens Paul Weller idealized London. He would catch a train from Woking and carry a tape recorder around the capital just to be able to hear the streets again and again. However, after writing and recording two Jam albums in six months and endless touring he suffered premature burnout. Chastened by the experience, he emerged a more bitter, cynical person and he penned this song from the perspective of an ordinary working man on the way back to his suburban home, who is beaten senseless by skinheads.
  • The sounds of an Underground train at the beginning of the song was recorded at St John's Wood Station.
  • Paul Weller told Uncut this song started as "a long poem, which (producer) Vic Coppersmith-Heaven helped me shape into a song."
  • Originally Paul Weller had wanted to exclude the track from the record. Vic Coppersmith-Heaven recalled to Sound On Sound magazine: "I remember Paul throwing certain songs out of the All Mod Cons album, like 'Down in the Tube Station', which he rejected largely because the arrangement hadn't developed during the recording session. I said, 'Hang on, I haven't even read the lyrics yet, Paul... You should really work on this song, it's great.'"

    "I was insistent on him reviving it, and once the band got involved and we developed the sound it turned into an absolutely brilliant track, a classic. Maybe we would have come around to recording it later on in the project, but he'd just reached that point of 'Oh bollocks, this isn't working, it's a load of crap.'"

Comments: 8

  • Muz2549 from London A brilliant song, a forgotten classic, never get bored of singing along to it, songs like this had deep meaning and soul, that's what is missing today, glad I grew up in the jam, clash etc era
  • Nobby from LondonThe tube train sounds were recorded on a portable recorder by tape-op Phil Thornalley. Phil went on to play bass with the Cure during the Love Cats era, also with Edwyn Collins, playing and co-producing Never Met A Girl Like You.
  • Tony from BelfastNowhere in the song does Weller mention skinheads and he was a great admirer of the origianl skinhead and sudehead movements with it's emphasis on black music and sharp clothes.
  • David from Nottingham, United KingdomBrilliant song, fantastic bass line.
  • Kwami from Washington Dc, DcAbsolutely great song, and agreed a great live one too. Highlight of "Live Jam" when whole crowd hums along after the chorus and then shouts "hoy!"
  • Greg House from Princeton, NjCould have been used in the Australian skinhead film Romper Stomper. There is a scene where the skinheads beat up some Asians in the tube stop.
  • Phil from Antwerp, BelgiumThis song still sends shivers down my spine every time I listen to it, even after so many years. There is in my mind no song that expresses the harsh reality of prejudice and senseless violence so vividly. The lyrics are powerful poetry. The music grips from the first note to the very last. Sheer brilliance!
  • Davie from Scotland, IrelandThe Jam and Paul Weller at their absolute best - Brilliantly raw sound especially Live - The best song of All Mod Cons LP by a mile !!!
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