English Civil War (song)

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"English Civil War"
The Clash - English Civil War.jpg
Single by The Clash
from the album Give 'Em Enough Rope
B-side "Pressure Drop"
Released 23 February 1979 (U.K.)
Format 7" single
Recorded 1978
Genre Punk rock
Length 2:35
Label CBS 7082
Songwriter(s) traditional, arranged by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones
Producer(s) Sandy Pearlman
The Clash singles chronology
"Tommy Gun"
"English Civil War"
"I Fought the Law"
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"Tommy Gun"
"English Civil War"
"I Fought the Law"
(U.S., 1979)

"English Civil War" is a song by English punk rock band The Clash, featured on their second album Give 'Em Enough Rope, and released as a single on 23 February 1979. It reached number 25 in the UK Singles Chart and number 28 in the Irish Singles Chart.


The song is derived from an American Civil War song, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", written by Irish-born Massachusetts Unionist Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, which is in turn derived from the Irish anti-war song "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye".[citation needed] It was popular among both sides of the conflict.

Having learnt the song at school, Joe Strummer suggested that the band should update it. Those on the left wing saw the rise during the mid-1970s of far right groups such as the British National Front as alarming and dangerous omens for Britain's future. The song is about this state of politics in the country and warns against all things uniformed and sinister. Shortly after the song had its first live performance at a Rock Against Racism concert, Strummer said, echoing the song's lyrics, in an interview to the music newspaper Record Mirror:

War is just around the corner. Johnny hasn't got far to march. That's why he is coming by bus or underground.

The cover of the single is a still from John Halas' 1954 animated adaptation of George Orwell's dystopian novella Animal Farm.

Cover versions[edit]

It was later covered in 1993 by The Levellers on their EP, Julie (1994).

A ska version of the song also appears as a track on The Crombies "Dance Crazee" CD.


"English Civil War"[edit]

"Pressure Drop"[edit]


Chart Peak
UK Singles Chart 25[citation needed]
Irish Singles Chart 29[citation needed] Mar 1979

External links[edit]