English Civil War (song)

"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 29 in the Irish Singles Chart.

"English Civil War"
The Clash - English Civil War.jpg
Single by The Clash
from the album Give 'Em Enough Rope
B-side"Pressure Drop"
Released23 February 1979 (U.K.)
Format7" single
GenrePunk rock
LabelCBS 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"


The song is derived from an American Civil War song, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", written by Irish-born Massachusetts Unionist Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore. 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 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 and Joy Batchelor's 1954 animated adaptation of George Orwell's dystopian novella Animal Farm.

Cover versionsEdit

The Levellers included a cover of the song on their 1994 EP, Julie.


"English Civil War"Edit

"Pressure Drop"Edit

  • Joe Strummer – lead vocal, piano, rhythm guitar
  • Mick Jones – backing vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitars
  • Paul Simonon – backing vocal, bass guitar
  • Topper Headon – drums


Chart Peak
UK Singles Chart[1] 25 March 1979
Irish Singles Chart[2] 29 March 1979


  1. ^ "Artist: The Clash". Officialcharts.com. Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Artist: The Clash". Irishcharts.ie. Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 22 July 2019.

External linksEdit