E=MC2 (song)

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This article is about the Big Audio Dynamite song. For the Ayreon song, see the album including it -- namely, see 01011001.
E=MC² cover.jpeg
Single by Big Audio Dynamite
from the album This Is Big Audio Dynamite
Released March 1986
Format 7", 12"
Recorded 1985
Genre Alternative dance, new wave
Length 5:55
Label CBS
Writer(s) Mick Jones, Don Letts
Producer(s) Mick Jones
Big Audio Dynamite singles chronology
"The Bottom Line"
"Medicine Show"

"E=MC2" is a 1985 single by Big Audio Dynamite, released as the second single from their debut album This Is Big Audio Dynamite. The song was the group's first Top 40 hit on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number 11. Additionally, it peaked at number 37 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in the United States. The song features prominent dialogue samples from the 1970 film Performance. The song is also played during the opening titles of the French movie Forces spéciales (2011).


This song was inspired by films directed by Nicolas Roeg, including Performance (written & co-directed by Donald Cammell), Walkabout, Don't Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and Insignificance. Its lyrics refer directly to many of them. For example:

  • The 2nd half of the 1st verse (from "Took a trip to Powis Square" to "Insanity Bohemian style") refers to the two main characters in Performance; a retired rock star (played by Mick Jagger) and a gangster on the run (played by James Fox)
  • "King of brains" - refers to Albert Einstein, a lead character in Insignificance (note also the reference to "relativity" in the chorus)
  • "Queen of the sack" - refers to Marilyn Monroe, a lead character in Insignificance
  • "Hall of fame baseball" - refers to Joe DiMaggio, a lead character in Insignificance
  • "Senator's a hoodlum" - refers to Joe McCarthy, a lead character in Insignificance
  • "Don't like no aborigine" - refers to one of the main characters in Walkabout, an Aborigine
  • "Space guy fell from the sky" refers to The Man Who Fell to Earth starring David Bowie
  • The 2nd verse (from "Met a dwarf who was no good" to "Gets to take the funeral ride") describes Don't Look Now Starring Donald Sutherland

Included throughout the song are dialogue samples taken directly from the film Performance. These include:

  • - "Why don't you play us a tune, pal?" - "I don't like music." - "Comical little geezer. You'll look funny when you're fifty." (Dialogue between Chas and Turner)
  • "You know, I don't think I'm going to let you stay in the film business." (Chas)
  • "Time for a change!" (Chas)
  • "I like a bit of a cavort, I don't send 'em solicitor's letters. I apply a bit of pressure." (Chas)
  • "Who do you think you are, the Lone Ranger? (...) You're Jack the Lad!" (Harry Flowers)
  • "Putting a little stick about. Putting the frighteners on flash, little twerps." (Chas)
  • "He's an ignorant boy. An out of date boy." (Flowers's associate)
  • "United we stand, divided we're lumbered." (Harry Flowers)
  • "At the death, who is left holding the sodding baby?" (Chas)
  • "I know a thing or two about the clientele. They're a bunch of liars and wrigglers. (...) Give 'em a bit of stick." (Chas)

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song (directed by Don Letts) features clips from movies made by Nicolas Roeg.

Mick Jones and Hard-Fi[edit]

"E=MC2" has been performed live by Mick Jones a few times with indie rock band Hard-Fi. One performance of this was at the Brixton Academy on 15 May 2006, a gig at which Billy Bragg and Paul Weller also appeared.[1]

On 18 May 2006, at the end of Hard-Fi's record-equalling five night residency of Brixton Academy (a record matched by The Clash amongst others) they were joined onstage by Mick Jones one song into their three song encore for their final performance of "E=MC2".[1]

Track listing[edit]

7-inch single (CBS A 6963)
  1. "E=MC2" – 5:58
  2. "This Is Big Audio Dynamite" – 3:39
12-inch single (CBS TA 6963)
  1. "E=MC2" (Extended Remix) – 6:18
  2. "This Is Big Audio Dynamite" – 5:40

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1986) Peak
Australia ARIA Singles Chart[2] 47
Irish Singles Chart[3] 11
UK Singles Chart[4] 11
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[5] 37
US Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales[5] 41

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hard-Fi team up with very special guest | News | NME.COM
  2. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, NSW, Australia: Australian Chart Book. p. 34. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  3. ^ "The Irish Charts". IRMA. Archived from the original on 2010-02-01. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  4. ^ "Chart Stats - Big Audio Dynamite". chartstats.com. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  5. ^ a b "Big Audio Dynamite > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-06-16.