Rudie Can't Fail

"Rudie Can't Fail" is a song by the English punk rock band The Clash, featured on their 1979 album London Calling. The song was written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, who sing it as a duet.

"Rudie Can't Fail"
Rudie Can't Fail by The Clash Netherlands single.png
Dutch single release
Song by The Clash
from the album London Calling
B-side"Bankrobber" / "Rockers Galore... UK Tour"
Released14 December 1979
RecordedJune–July, 1979
GenreReggae, post-punk
Songwriter(s)Joe Strummer, Mick Jones
Producer(s)Guy Stevens


Like many songs on London Calling, "Rudie Can't Fail" has a strong reggae influence. Donald A. Guarisco of Allmusic described it as "an exuberant horn-driven number that mixes pop and soul elements in to spice up its predominantly reggae sound".[1]


"Rudie Can't Fail" praises the rude boys of Jamaica in the 1960s who challenged their elders' status quo. The song is about a fun-loving young man who is criticised by his elders for not acting as a responsible adult, drinking beer before breakfast,[2] and describe him as being "so crude and feckless", to which he responds "I know that my life make you nervous, but I tell you I can't live in service."[1] The song's title derives from Desmond Dekker's 1967 song "007 (Shanty Town)", and is in homage to Ray Gange, who had portrayed a roadie who quits his job to follow The Clash around in the 1980 film Rude Boy.[3] Rudie Can't Fail was the working title of a planned second movie for which The Clash would provide the soundtrack.[4] Reference is made also to Dr Alimantado, in the line "Like the doctor who was born for a purpose".[5] Its name commonly appears at the end of "Safe European Home" from Give 'Em Enough Rope.


  1. ^ a b Rudie Can't Fail at Allmusic
  2. ^ Perone, James E. (2012). The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations. ABC-CLIO. p. 162. ISBN 9780313379062. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  3. ^ Gray, Marcus (2004). The Clash: Return Of The Last Gang In Town. Hal Leonard. pp. 253, 307. ISBN 9781617749179. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  4. ^ Thompson, Dave (2000). Alternative Rock. Hal Leonard. p. 134. ISBN 9780879306076. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  5. ^ Moskowitz, David Vlado (2006). Caribbean Popular Music: An Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, and Dancehall. Greenwood. p. 296. ISBN 9780313331589. Retrieved 24 February 2013.

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