The Clash’s seminal 1979 release, London Calling, covered a myriad of topics: nuclear war, classic cars, firearms, political oppression, and the Spanish Civil War, just to name a few. But there was also a predominant theme of responsibility that permeated the album’s lyrics, which contrasted the strident political themes of the band’s past work.
Whether it was the broken relationship of ‘Train in Vain’ or the summation of a life that was either well lived or wasted in ‘Death or Glory’, The Clash were bringing a matured mindset to their sound.
The best summation of this newfound focus on adulthood is ‘Lover’s Rock’, a song about participating in safe sex and using contraceptives. “A lot of people in the Western Hemisphere have problems,” Joe Strummer once explained. “No one really wants to talk about this kind of thing, but it’s very common, especially with boys turning into men – you get some great bird and fuck it up, right? This song mainly tries to tell you how to do it properly.”
That’s where lines like “You Western man, you’re free with your seed / When you make lovers rock / But whoops, there goes the strength you need – to make real cool lovers rock” take on a greater resonance. Sure, the song is about having a good time, but Strummer makes an effort to make sure you do it correctly and without harm.
In that way, Strummer also advocates against The Pill because of the negative effect it can have on a woman’s psyche. “The pill leads to dreadful depressions with some girls. Taking the pill every day, sometimes getting fat and they don’t know why, and that makes them feel worse.”
“I mean, I was a dwarf when I was younger, grew to my normal size later on, but before then I had to fight my way through school,” Strummer continues. “Anyway, that’s why I wrote the song, even though it’s a bit of a touchy subject. I don’t agree with the pill at all.”