Thursday, January 29, 2015
Sounds from the UK: The Clash
Sex Pistols and the musical minimalism of the Ramones. Their 1979 album ‘London Calling’ is considered by critics as one of the greatest albums in the history of rock music. Rolling Stone declared it the best album of the 80s, even though it was released near the end of 1979 at first (technically, Jan 1980, in the United States).
"Rock the Casbah" gives an account of a ban on rock music by the king being defied by the population, who proceed to "rock the casbah." The King orders jet fighters to bomb any people in violation of the ban. The pilots ignored the orders, and instead played rock music on their cockpit radios. It was inspired by ban on Western music in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The song's lyrics feature various Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, and Sanskrit loan-words, such as sharif, bedouin, sheikh, kosher, rāga, muezzin, minaret, and casbah.
"Rock the Casbah" originated when the band's manager Bernie Rhodes, after hearing them record an inordinately long track for the album, asked them facetiously "does everything have to be as long as this rāga?" (referring to the Indian musical style known for its length and complexity). Joe Strummer later wrote the opening lines to the song: "The King told the boogie-men 'you have to let that rāga drop.'" The rest of the lyrics soon followed.