Rock The Casbah

Album: Combat Rock (1982)
Charted: 30 8
Play Video
  • Now the king told the boogie men m
    "You have to let that raga drop"
    The oil down the desert way
    Has been shaken to the top
    The Sheik he drove his Cadillac
    He went a-cruisin' down the ville
    The Muezzin was a-standin'
    On the radiator grille, ow

    Shareef don't like it
    Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah
    The Shareef don't like it
    Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah

    By order of the prophet
    We'll ban that boogie sound
    Degenerate the faithful
    With that crazy Casbah sound
    But the Bedouin they brought out an electric camel drum
    The local guitar picker got his guitar pickin' thumb
    As soon as the Shareef had cleared the square
    They began to wail

    Shareef don't like it
    Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah
    Shareef don't like it
    Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah

    Now, over at the temple
    Oh, they really pack 'em in
    The in-crowd say it's cool
    To dig this chanting thing
    But as the wind changed direction
    And the temple band took five
    The crowd caught a whiff
    Of that crazy Casbah jive

    Shareef don't like it
    Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah
    Shareef don't like it
    Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah

    The king called up his jet fighters
    He said, "You better earn your pay
    Drop your bombs between the minarets
    Down the Casbah way"
    As soon as the Shareef was chauffeured outta there
    The jet pilots tuned to the cockpit radio blare
    Soon as the Shareef was outta their hair
    The jet pilots wail

    Shareef don't like it
    Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah
    Shareef don't like it
    Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah

    Shareef don't like it, he thinks it's not kosher
    Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah
    Shareef don't like it, fundamentally can't take it
    Rockin' the Casbah, Rock the Casbah

    Shareef don't like it, you know he really hates it
    Rockin' the Casbah, rock the Casbah
    Shareef don't like it, really, really hates it Writer/s: Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Topper Headon
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 73

  • Summer2 from HantsOne of my least favourite Clash tunes. However, they are one of my favourite groups, their music can be so raw, passionate and energetic.
    They held anti racist music events at a time when the UK was even more discriminatory and bigoted than it is at the moment-I live in the UK and sadly I've seen an increase in prejudice over the last few years.
  • Stuff from Cincinnati Area, In/oh, UsFor those who think it's says "mental retardation" (looking at anonymous), Joe clearly says "fundamentally can't take it." I think I know my rights ;)
  • Phil Leotardo from Ontario Canada This was brilliantly used in The Sopranos for those who are fans of the show Tony (played by the late great James Gandolfini )often referred to Phil Leotardo ( another incredible talent played by Frank Vincent R.I.P) as The Shah of Iran and this is playing while he's chasing down Phil/The Shah when he causes him to crash head on into a bus for an unpaid debt
  • AnonymousI think Rock the kasbah should be banned from the radios cuz after ending it and says mental retardation and I really don't appreciate that song
  • Damian from Akl, NzYeah, Scott. ..I've noticed that too. So it's not the Mandela Effect !
  • Scott from Turlock CaI've never seen any explanation about why there where different versions of this song. In one version, when Joe screams "Casbah Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiive" his voice echoes on weirdly for 5 seconds. Then years later I noticed that part had been changed to a short scream with less production. Now I seem to hear both versions occasionally.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 9, 1982, the Clash were guests on NBC-TV late-night program 'Saturday Night Live'...
    At the time their "Rock The Casbah" was at #75 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, fourteen weeks later it would peak at #8 {for 4 weeks} and it spent 24 weeks on the Top 100...
    They had two other Top 100 records, "Train In Vain" {#23 in 1980} and "Should I Stay or Should I Go" {#45 in 1982}...
    In their native United Kingdom they had seventeen Top 40 hits between 1977 and 1991, one made the Top 10 and it reached #1, "Should I Stay or Should I Go", for two weeks on March 3rd, 1991.
  • Chris from Germany This song is a classic and shows the variety and the richness of The Clash. 1982 was the year for The Clash in the USA. The awesome video in which some can see an Arab and a Jew was on heavy rotation on MTV and helped the song become a top 10 Hit in the USA. In the UK MTV was established in 1987 and therefore I think the video couldn't help the song to get a hit. The Song went Top 10 in the USA and was their signature song there. In the video we can see also product placement of the 80s. For example Burger King, Star Line Limo and Dr. Pepper.
  • Dixie from North CarolinaIt should be noted that the use of words like "sharif," "muezzin," and "minaret" would have been second nature to Joe Strummer. He was born in Turkey and was partly raised there as well as Cairo, Egypt and Teheran, Iran, thanks to his diplomat father. A childhood spent in the Arab world was an important influence on Joe's identity as an adult.
  • Deethewriter from Saint Petersburg, Russia FederationSong with a reference toThe Clash anthems = Cowboy Mouth--"Joe Strummer": Touching story of a bloke who ditches his girl 'cos she wears all the right clothes but doesn't know who Joe Strummer is: "It's not that she didn't Rock My Casbah / It's not that I couldn't burn her London down / It's just that she kept on disappearing whenever the Sandanistas came to town…"
  • Margaret from Buellton, CaDr. Demento played a parody of this song on his show by Bobby Volare, (a morning show dj on kkdj) called, "Lock the Snackbar". At the time, parodies were not necessarily legal, and it couldn't be released on cd. Now, his video of the song is on youtube. (
  • Dusty from St. Louis, Mothis was used in a commercial for something... I forget what, but it was two guys arguing one said i was "rock the cat box" when the other said it was "rock the casbah". I sing it rock the cat box
  • Jon from Hackney, United KingdomShareef can scooch over, because I didn't like it either. It's total Strummer self-indulgence. Lyrically funny, interesting etc as you'd expect, but musically weak. One of my least favourite from a superb band
  • John from Eugene, OrI'd like to emphasize that this video was one of the first on MTV along with 'Hungry Like A Wolf' by Duran Duran, and 'Shock the Monkey' by Peter Gabriel. These videos began a revolution in where the focus of music went. About a year later Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' captured headlines for MTV as the place to be but now MTV is just a footnote in the evolution of rock n roll, today YouTube is much more important than watching cable TV. Probably because the format of MTV changed, besides, who could afford to keep up with the cost of video productions?
  • Titos from Austin, TxRobert: It is no mistake -- the City Coliseum shown in the video is now torn down and a park is indeed in its place. The City Auditorium is what they turned into the Long Center, and it sits about 3 blocks east of the old coliseum location. As a native Austinite who saw Ram Das in the old coliseum and as an actor who recently played four sold-out shows in the Long Center, trust me on this.

    Katrina: Yes, indeed. I DID tear tickets at the AQ4, as we used to call it. Wow, I was in high school then, so you must be (or know) some reeeally old time Austin folk!
  • Briman from Austin, TxWent there (1st nite) saw them- STILL have the Tshirt- Combat rock- Know your rights...
  • Briman from Austin, TxThat is the pool at the old Sheraton. I was at the show and saw Titos and Dennis in costume- I can remember thinking "what's with the get-ups". It was at the old coliseum- SR Vaughan and Double trouble were warm-ups.
  • Grace from Phoenix, AzI named my Persian cat "Casbah". My friends all
    think of the song when they see the cat.
  • Robert from Austin, TxThere is a little error about the facts about the music video which was filmed in Austin Texas; It was stated that the venue in the final scene "has since been torn down to make a park". As an Austin native I know this wrong, granet it has been heavly remodeled and renamed as the Long Center, but its still there. And my dad was there for that show.

    In other locals in the video I know them all...

    The Burger King is still there and still a Burger King on Guadalupe "the drag" and a mecca to UT students.

    The military air base which was Bergstrom Air Force Base is now the Austin International Airport.

    The victorian house, is still there on Congress and Oltorf but its a Wells-Fargo Bank now

    The Austin skyline is still there too but is completly unrecognizable.
  • Brian from Jacksonville, FlSomeone asked about the chimes that sort of sound like a ringtone that can be heard in this song.

    I once owned a watch made by Commodore Intl. which is the same Commodore responsible for the C64. This watch had an alarm which was the song "Dixie" a la "The Dukes of Hazzard" etc. And it is the first part of this alarm that is heard on "Rock the Casbah."

    It is actually one of the reasons I liked this song as a kid, because I loved that watch.
  • Kristina from Austin, TxTitos Menchaca, sheik, is it true that you used to take tickets at the (now torn down, add that to our Austin list)Aquarius theater on Pleasant Valley? Thanks for all of the free movies!
  • John from Mansfield, TxMisunderstood Lyrics:"Lock the Cashbox"or"Rock the Catbox".
  • Cecil from Your Mum, Bouvet IslandI apologise if my last comment broke the comment guidelines, i only just read them. I'm so sorry. I'm really really sorry. I'm listening to Rock the Casbah now =] again im sorry please delete my comment if you want..sorry again. Love to you all.

    Cecil xXx
  • Tom from Marble Falls, ArI liked PUNK a lot better when the rest of the world HATED IT. I was a teen in the late Seventies and The Clash's Combat Rock was the first punk album EVERYBODY BOUGHT (oh yeah, they bought Joan Jett too). It would have been better if they kept on hating it and left me and my music alone!
  • Taffy from Wales, WalesDoes any one else hear the electronic beep beep ring like tone on rock the casbah? Its not on some versions, I love the song but the strange ring like noise does my head in......
  • Darrell from EugeneMany of you are right about the subject of this song. Both my girlfriend and I agree that this song is a satire of the Ayatollah Khomeini's ban on American and European music in the late 1970s or early 1980s, however, the Iranian air force never used war to try and introduce Euro-American music to Persia.
  • Pradeep from London, Englandadding to the 1979 ban posted by Tom from Newark - Ths song start with a reference to the Shah of Iran being deposed in 1979 - he's the King who
    became very westernised , living the high life
    on oil riches and then Ayatollah "order of the prophet" orders ban on western music and other
    western influences "thatdegenerate the faithfull"

    Still relevant now with the Ayatollah having the last say on key goverment issues.

    Dan , London
  • Aaron from Manistee, MiEarly U2 songs like Out of Control and I Will Follow are good examples of how punk should sound.
  • Titos from Austin, Tx"The parts of the arab and jew were played by longtime Clash manager Bernie Rhodes (The Arab) and longtime Clash friend Mark "Frothler" Helfont (the Jew).
    - Jackie, Fairfield, CT"

    SORRY, JACKIE, THIS IS NOT TRUE!! I know because it was I who played the part of the Arab sheik. The Jew was played by a friend of mine named Dennis Razze. They said they liked the contrast of me being 6'2" and Dennis being musch shorter. The video was shot over two days here in Austin, Texas (where I live) a few months before MTV existed. I was a young film acting student at the time and Dennis was a local theater director. We were told it was the latest in marketing strategies... to film a video of a song. It was quite a concept at the time. I don't know how the rumor got started that it was these other guys in the video, but I have several copies of it in my possession and, though it was shot over 25 years ago, it is still clearly me in the video. Google my name to see my headshot.(btw, the cinematographer was a guy whose name you may know -- Barry Sonnenfeld.)

    -titos menchaca
  • Sam from South Kingston, RiThis is a great song, but would have been better by another band. It is sad that this is the song that alot of people know the Clash by because it isn't anything like there best stuff.:(
  • Izzy from Buffalo, Nythis song rocks. thats all there is to it.
  • Olivia from Perth, AustraliaOne of the most catchy songs :) love it, always puts me in a good mood
  • I'm Awesome from Boulder, Cothe is real punk, all the new 'punk' stuff just dosn't cut it!
  • Mike from Mexico City, MexicoI love this song and think The Clash was a great and probably the best punk rock band ever and this song is so unique and one of their highlights.
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhHey Johannes, I really don't think the Clash stole this song from anyone. Whoever told that story is probably lying. Joe Strummer wrote this partially based on his manager's comments and improvised the rest, and I think Topper Headon composed the music.
  • Mat from Fwb, Flactually josh from twin cities, i heard this on the radio yesterday and it was then same as on the album
  • Mrtipsy from Boston, Lincolnshire, EnglandRock the Casbah features in American Dad (Episode "Stan of Arabia Part 1")
  • Tom from Newark, DePart II - this song, of course, was inspired in part by the 1979 ban on Western Music in Iran. Here we go again, I ran has again banned Western Music
  • Joshua from Twin Cities, MnThe album version of the song differs slightly from the radio version. At the end of the third verse ("The crowd caught a whiff/Of that crazy Casbah jive!") Strummer screams the word "jive", and in the album version it's mixed so that the word continues to reverberate over the following chorus. In the radio version, the reverberation of "jive" is cut off as the chorus begins again.
  • Ace from Kingston , CanadaYa the guy who said Green Day had a chance was so right, but now they are a joke, with American Idiot and that Time of Your Life song is retarded, it makes them look like pussies. Also the guy from England that is 15 and likes it, its popular here in Canada too! Lots of my friends (guys and ONE girl lol) really like them, The best song they have is deff between White Riot and Train in Vain (Stand By Me)
  • Billy from Otway, Ohon American Dad,Steve listens to this while lobbing grenades around and watching Michael Moore
  • Johannes from MunichThe Clash stole most of this song from a demotape by a young algerien Clash fan called Rachid Taha who gave his tape to the clash after a concert in france. Years later he re-recorded his Song and called it "Rock el Casbah", a great version of this song
  • Christian from Copenhagen, DenmarkThe line, "The king told the boogie men/You have to let that raga drop", was inspired by the band's manager Bernie Rhodes, who complained that some of their songs sounded like Indian ragas.
  • Geoff from Los Angeles, CaNo one 'invented' punk. It evolved gradually from the whole rock genre. There are too many people who started it to say anyone "created" it. Ian Drury, Ramones, etc..
  • Sus from Copenhagen, DenmarkTory Crimes is a joke name for Terry Chimes - it is meant in a mocking way. The Tories is the conservative party of England and they were certainly not liked amongst the members of The Clash.
    Topper Headon did not leave - he was kicked out by the others because of heroin addiction.
    The Clash was the only band to matter! They kept the spirit of punk alive and always did it themselves - unlike The Sex Pistols who sold out in my opinion.
  • James from Taunton, EnglandI'm 15 and this song as well as the band are still popular amongst people of my age even though they split up 2 decades ago! Great song!!!
  • Matt from Millbrae, CaThe Clash is up there with the Ramones for the best punk band of all time. Green Day had a chance to be up there before they released American Idiot. Great song.
  • Caitlin from Portsmouth, EnglandThis song is honestly -so- unique. Not based specifically on the music, but also on the content and the circumstances. The Clash was first introduced to the punk scene with White Riot, a far more "hard-core" punk-sounding song. The reason the Clash was so brilliant was because they were able to branch out into different areas of punk (including the sound of Rock the Casbah) and bring new aspects into their music without being tooooooo terribly left-wing-ish.
  • Don from San Antonio, TxThis song blows. Minor Threat and the first Suicidal Tendencies album were a reaction to crap like this. I don't care HOW much I just offended CANNOT firebomb your local police station listening to this garbage. Quit trying to convince me you can; go back to Hot Topic and buy your Clash coozies & mouse pads.
  • Dustin from My Home, Inthis song was featured on an episode of the simpsons where marge and homer are sexulay experimenting adn bart makes the coment ' so dad didcha rock the casbah' and at the ending credits it plays the song.
  • Matthew from Tampa, FlLong Time Jerk can be found on the CD Super Black Market Clash which contains most but not all of the songs of the EP Black Market Clash as well as a few others.
  • Nessie from Sapporo, JapanThis song is eerie similiar to The Stranglers' "Shah Shah A-go-go," released three years earlier. The music is different, but the sentiment is similar.
  • Nessie from Sapporo, Japan"Topper was not replaced by Torry Crimes, he was replaced by Terry Chimes" Tory Crimes was a pseudonym.
  • George from Houston, TxWhat about the hidden messages in the video, such as Muslim and Jew eating at a Burger King,
    (pork products), etc.....???
  • Naveed from Dhaka, OtherI think this is one of The Clash's best songs, its so catchy, innovative, and rebellious! Anyone who thinks The Clash sold out is an idiot, by doing dance music they didn't sell out, they innovated! Regardless of what kinda of music they played, they always sounded like pure punk. I even liked their much-derided last album, 'Cut The Crap'. The Clash rule because they showed everyone that punk rock can be as diverse and original as any other genre, and still remain punk.
  • Adam from Charlottesville, VaThe Casbah is the Arab quarters (ghetto) of Algiers.
  • Mikey from New York, NyThis is a very politically charged song. I think it reflects the bands realizing what repressive societies the Arab people live in despite there material wealth
  • Liam from Campbell River, CanadaOne of the great true punk bands.........I hate new punk like Good Charlotte and the like
  • Shana from Pembroke, CanadaI think this song is in a Simpsons rock on Clash
  • Geri from Nova Scotia, CanadaJust try to stand still when this tune is playing!
  • Tom from Beverly, MaTory Crimes and Terry Chimes were one and the same.
  • Kai from Pleasent View, Utthe clash were great for a long time but they became to much of popularized punk and turned into crap cause they sold out on there last few album but this song is awsome they didnt mess this one up
  • Nate Goeman from Lake City, MnFunny thing Is the Ramones didnt start punk rock. There were bands before them like MC5, Velvet Underground, and The Stooges.
  • Jackie from Fairfield, CtTopper was not replaced by Torry Crimes, he was replaced by Terry Chimes.

    also, the music video for Rock The Casbah features an arab and an orthodox Jewish person skanking, to go with the middle eastern theme. The parts of the arab and jew were played by longtime Clash manager Bernie Rhodes (The Arab) and longtime Clash friend Mark "Frothler" Helfont (the Jew).
  • Janelle from New York City, Nyis is an example of the clash heading towards dance music.
  • Jade from Sterling Heights, MiThe Ramones started PUNK, The Sex Pistols perfected PUNK, and The Clash popularized PUNK. I love my punk.
  • Andy from Halifax, EnglandA brilliant example of the incredible diversity of this punk band.
  • Kei from Salem, OrThis song was apparently written as a denunciation of the Iranian Khomeni regime's suppression of rock music.
  • Melissa from Lansing, MiI love this song! The Clash rules
  • Guadalupe from Monterrey, MexicoI LIKE THIS SONG AND I THINK IS WONDERFUL
  • Andy from Halifax, England...I forgot to mention: this song was also a favorite on the radio service for the soldiers in 'Gulf wars episode II (clone of the attacks)'. this disgraced the remaining members of the band.
  • Andy from Halifax, EnglandThe clash must be an inspriation to any band who want to act under the glorious heading of PUNK. Maybe i chose the wrong words there, and this is exactly me piont: the clash split up when they felt that their music had become insincere. Also they never SOLD OUT or REFORMED. The clash WERE punk!
  • Matt from London, EnglandLong Time Jerk is in fact available on 'Super Black Market Clash', a round up of some fantastic B sides, remixes and demos.
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