Going Underground

Album: Snap! (1980)
Charted: 1

Songfacts®:

  • This song was Paul Weller's angry outcry against the British Conservative government. In particular it was an indictment of the government's policy on arms in which they seemed to be keener on spending taxpayers money on a nuclear arsenal rather than beneficial government programs.
  • The Jam were touring the States when this became their first UK #1. In an interview with Positive Energy of Madness, Jam drummer Rick Buckler said: "It was a shock when we got to #1, otherwise we wouldn't have been in the States. We knew 'Going Underground' would do well. We had a good drink that night. However, everyone wanted to be back in Britain. We made out we had all come down with a virus. We canceled the rest of the tour of the States. We flew back to Britain on Concorde, to record 'Going Underground' on Top of The Pops for the following week."

Comments: 6

  • Stuart Maxted from HorleyI was only 14 when this came out but I remember that soon as I heard it on the radio, just had to rush out and buy it. 55 now, and with a greater understanding of its political message and relevance, it's still one of my favourite ever singles. I got the 3-track live EP version; you don't get value like that very often!!
  • Mark from Cromer, Norfolk, UkInitial copies of the single came with a 3-track live EP recorded at The Rainbow in London in 1979 - which could partially explain how it entered the UK singles chart at number 1.
  • Ross from Leicester, United KingdomI think Weller's quote at the time (1977) was something like "Anarchy's getting a bit trendy - we'll be voting Conservative" - a sarcastic dig at the fact that many in the punk scene were claiming to be into "anarchy" because it was expected of them. Around the same time Weller claimed his heroes included Joe Strummer and George Orwell - both associated with left wing politics. By the 80s it was clear what side of he political diide Weller stood on.
  • Mudassir from Bolton, EnglandPaul Weller did say he was going to vote Conservative, then retracted it a few years later. He said he only said it to shock people, and reminds us he was only 18 at the time. For a period, he did campaign for the Labour Party - these days he has no time for any political party or politician - as witnessed in his recent song 'A Bullet for Everyone'
  • Terry from Ottawa, CanadaIt's odd that this obivious indictment of the Conservative Gov't is one of the Jam's most beloved songs. Paul had been accused of being a tory supporter around All Mod Cons (cons being interpreted as conservatives) I have no idea if this truth or legend.
    Terry, Ottawa, Canada
  • Jeff from Liverpool, Englandthis song was originally a 'b' side to dreams of children but due to a mistake at polydors french pressing plant it ended up as a double a side
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Danny Kortchmar

Danny KortchmarSongwriter Interviews

Danny played guitar on Sweet Baby James, Tapestry, and Running On Empty. He also co-wrote many hit songs, including "Dirty Laundry," "Sunset Grill" and "Tender Is The Night."

Actors With Hit Songs

Actors With Hit SongsMusic Quiz

Many actors have attempted music, but only a few have managed a hit. Do you know which of these thespians charted?

Penny Ford of Snap!

Penny Ford of Snap!Songwriter Interviews

The original voice of Snap! this story is filled with angry drag queens, video impersonators and Chaka Khan.

Howard Jones

Howard JonesSongwriter Interviews

Howard explains his positive songwriting method and how uplifting songs can carry a deeper message.

Gary Numan

Gary NumanSongwriter Interviews

An Electronic music pioneer with Asperger's Syndrome. This could be interesting.

George Harrison

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.