O’Rourke: The Clash’s ‘London Calling’ changed my life

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Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) explained how the British punk band The Clash, whose song “Clampdown” has served as the 2020 hopeful’s walkout jam at campaign stops, influenced his politics on a recent podcast. 

O’Rourke, a former member of a punk rock band himself, said on a podcast that a friend first gave him the group’s 1979 double album “London Calling” in high school and that the album “absolutely changed my life.”

“The urgency in that music. Politics in a way I had never experienced it before,” O’Rourke said.{mosads}

During a June 6 appearance on the San Francisco Chronicle’s “It’s All Political” podcast, O’Rourke praised the band’s call for rebellion and a more revolutionary kind of politics.

“Wearing their politics on their sleeve. Trying to be a voice for those who otherwise would not have a voice — but then making it popular. Bringing me in through the beat, the riffs, Mick Jones’s soaring vocals. They just absolutely changed my life,” O’Rourke continued.

O’Rourke said he picked the band’s song “Clampdown” as a campaign anthem because its lyrics tell listeners “you can grow up idealistic with the best of intentions, but you can be compromised or corrupted or consumed by these larger forces and powers.”

He recently played the song at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Hall of Fame dinner, as well as at the California Democratic Party convention, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.  

The song’s lyrics are about the government crackdowns on protesters in the United Kingdom in the 1970s and railing against a capitalist system.

“You grow up and you calm down/You’re working for the clampdown/You start wearing the blue and brown/You’re working for the clampdown,” the song’s lyrics protest.

“There’s got to be something in this corporate moment where it’s not just what we watch on TV and what we buy,” O’Rourke said. “It’s our politics — it’s how we consume public life.”

The former lawmaker also referenced the song during a Senate debate last year when he was running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). He told Cruz he was “working for the clampdown and the corporations and the special interests,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Tags 2020 Beto O'Rourke Ted Cruz
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