The Clash: “The Card Cheat”

(I’m on a quest to get my mom into The Clash, because she missed them the first time round. This was an email to her, with an attached song.)

I said I’d randomly send you Clash songs because you have iTunes now and, as they say, they’re “the only band that’s ever mattered.” (Seriously… I didn’t say that. Someone else did. I don’t know who said it first, but I heard it a lot now.)

“The Card Cheat,” from their third album, London Calling, which was released in 1979. This is one of my favorite Clash songs, mainly because of the emotional vocal intensity, that emotional vocal intensity I love so much. The general intensity of this song is an interesting thing to consider, because it deviates so much from punk, and yet the punk intensity is still felt, combined with a nice melancholia. Apparently, I don’t know how else to describe this song but “intense.” It is though—it’s an intense experience, and yet also a calming and reflective one. (Why build binaries when you don’t have to?) There’s something about it that makes me want to sing and wail along with him at the top of my lungs. I’d really love to hear this song at a carnival for some reason.

A bit of history on the Clash if you’re interested:

From that page: “From their earliest days as a band, the Clash stood apart from their peers with their musicianship, as well as their lyrics; the passionate, left wing political idealism in the lyrics of frontmen Joe Strummer and Mick Jones contrasted with the anarchic nihilism of the Sex Pistols and the basic simplicity of The Ramones.” I told you about that, one of the main reasons I love them so much: the “tunneled energy” I thanked them for in the “It Adds Up” program.

Here’s a quote about the album this song is from: “Their third album, the late 1979 release London Calling is considered by many critics one of the greatest albums in the history of rock music; it was released in the U.S. in January, 1980 and a decade later Rolling Stone magazine declared it the best album of the 1980s.”


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