The Guns Of Brixton

Album: London Calling (1979)
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Songplace
  • When they kick at your front door
    How you gonna come?
    With your hands on your head
    Or on the trigger of your gun

    When the law break in
    How you gonna go?
    Shot down on the pavement
    Or waiting on death row

    You can crush us
    You can bruise us
    But you'll have to answer to
    Oh, the guns of Brixton

    The money feels good
    And your life you like it well
    But surely your time will come
    As in heaven, as in hell

    You see, he feels like Ivan
    Born under the Brixton sun
    His game is called survivin'
    At the end of the harder they come

    You know it means no mercy
    They caught him with a gun
    No need for the Black Maria
    Goodbye to the Brixton sun

    You can crush us
    You can bruise us
    But you'll have to answer to
    But oh-the guns of Brixton

    When they kick at your front door
    How you gonna come?
    With your hands on your head
    Or on the trigger of your gun

    You can crush us
    You can bruise us
    Yes, even shoot us
    But oh-the guns of Brixton

    Shot down on the pavement
    Waiting in death row
    His game is called survivin'
    As in heaven as in hell

    You can crush us
    You can bruise us
    But you'll have to answer to
    Oh, the guns of Brixton
    Oh, the guns of Brixton
    Oh, the guns of Brixton
    Oh, the guns of BrixtonWriter/s: Paul Gustave Simonon
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 22

  • Rocco from New York City, NyI have to agree with Nick from Harpendonia. After having seen the Clash live over a half dozen times, Simonon and Strummer switched instruments for this song. Strummer was efficient enough on bass, but Simonon --- I dunno...it just seemed that he was concentrating on his vocals so much that he couldn't hear the rest of the band and was off-beat almost every time I saw these guys. A couple of times, Mick Jones had to turn up his amp in order to cover over Simonon's. This takes nothing away from the song though. It's powerful and mesmerizing.
  • Aurelien from Saint Etienne, FranceThere's nothing hard to understand on the meaning of this song, I don't get why you all talk about gangs or racial riot.

    Maybe you guys don't get it's a punk song first of all.
    Guns of Brixton is about police repression, and Law. It means that the law is wrong, and that if you are right, you'll get "crushed" and "bruised". But police will have to answer to the people's anger.
    It says that society is made is such an hypocritical way that if you're poor, you sometimes have no choice but illegality, and you'll be judged for that (Ivan).

    The Guns of Brixton represent the anger of the people against a society which make them live in misery; the police incarnating this society.
  • Morgan from My Backyard, Onbilly joe doesnt have a son named brixton.
  • Ross from Leicester, United KingdomI think this song was more about the police than gangsters. If anything it's a fantasy response to police brutality and like a lot of Clash songs influnced by films - in this case Paul Simonon's love of Jimmy Cliff film "The Harder They Come" (one verse refers to Ivan - Jimmy Cliff's character in the film and the film is directly named).
  • Dave from Ocala, FlAnd here's one of the live versions of the song by Nouvelle Vague I mentioned:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFiTd8YcUgI
  • Dave from Ocala, FlNouvelle Vague, with the ever-so-sexily-intriguing Camille Dalmais, sometimes performed this song as an acoustic song with captivating vocals by Ms. Dalmais and a fantastic groove to the acoustic guitar.

    And it is true that Joe & Paul switched instruments on this song - or at least at each of the3 shows I was fortunate enough to see back in The Day.

    There's a widely circulating live recording usually called "Indian Cents" from their show at The AC Hall in Hong Kong on Feb 25, 1982. If you can find it, and it absolutely smokes - and Joe introduces Paul as they trade instruments. PLease try to find it!
  • Robert from New Orleans, LaIs it true that when the Clash played this live, Joe would play bass because Paul had a hard time singing and playing at the same time?
  • Simon from London, EnglandSouth London gangsterism
  • Matthew from Milford, MaYeah, this song is about a society where gangs are formed because the law doesn't give a **** about you...
  • Mudassir from Bolton, EnglandThis song is about a neighbourhood in London called Brixton where Paul Simonon was from. It is probably the first established and most famous black neighbourhood in London but was also the scene of much racial tension in the late 70s with police and the black community. The theme is basically a warning of the catastrophic consequences of violence if the police brutality continued unchecked. The song actually echoed the subsequent riots in 1981.
  • Izzy from Buffalo, Nyjohn, you are sadly mistaken. thats what the song 'clampdown' by the clash is about. gicing in to government or not. this song is just about giving into crime or not.
  • Izzy from Buffalo, Nylove this song
  • Will from Schoharie, NyAlso sampled by Cypress Hill for their song "What's Your Name, What's You're Number?"
  • Lauren from London, EnglandSampled in 'Dub be good to me'
  • J from Nyc, NyJohn, it's simply just about the crime and violence of the Brixton area Simonon grew up in; you're reading a little too much into it. If you haven't check out the live version on From Here to Eternity...AWESOME!
  • Nick from Harpendonia, EnglandAlthough Paul Simonon played bass on the recording, when the Clash played live he would switch to guitar and Joe Strummer would play bass on this song, as Simonon was not skilled enough to sing and play bass at the same time.
  • John from Indianapolis, Inthis song is strait forward and not much theory is possible to present the sheer simplicity of it astounds.
    its all about resisting the government or going peacfully which would you do?
  • Jeff from Staten Island, NyBlack Maria" (alternatively spelled "Mariah") is an archaic American/British nickname for a paddy wagon, or a bus used to transport prisoners.
  • Jeff from Staten Island, NyIts more of a reggae song, one of many the Clash has done. I'm a huge Clash fan & this is my favorites too.
  • Petter from Ã?ngelholm, Swedenit's funny how you really can think of this song as a hiphop/rap song. it's really cool and good!
  • Nicole from Nottellin, OrOne of my very favorite Clash songs. Paul's lyrics and bass are great and the imagery striking.
  • George from Hell, PaMy favorite Clash song, but my opinion doesn't count because I'm relatively new to the Clash (with the exception of the radio-plugs, but they don't count as people).
see more comments

Fire On The StageSong Writing

When you have a song called "Fire," it's tempting to set one - these guys did.

Stephen Christian of AnberlinSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer/lyricist for Anberlin breaks down "Impossible" and covers some tracks from their 2012 album Vital.

Trans Soul Rebels: Songs About TransgenderismSong Writing

A history of songs dealing with transgender issues, featuring Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Morrissey and Green Day.

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet SprocketSongwriter Interviews

The "All I Want" singer went through a long depression, playing some shows when he didn't want to be alive.

Steve Morse of Deep PurpleSongwriter Interviews

Deep Purple's guitarist since 1994, Steve talks about writing songs with the band and how he puts his own spin on "Smoke On The Water."

Yacht Rock!Song Writing

A scholarly analysis of yacht rock favorites ("Steal Away," "Baker Street"...) with a member of the leading YR cover band.