Harman Patil (Editor)

Down in the Tube Station at Midnight

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Released  13 October 1978
Genre  Punk rock
Writer(s)  Paul Weller
Format  7" vinyl
Label  Polydor (UK)
B-side  So Sad About Us / The Night

"Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" was the second single taken from the album All Mod Cons by The Jam. Released on 13 October 1978, it charted at number 15 and was backed by a cover of the Who song "So Sad About Us", and "The Night", written by Bruce Foxton. The back of the record jacket displayed a photo of Keith Moon, former drummer of The Who, who had died the month prior to the single's release. Some copies of the single were pressed with "Down in the Tube Station" as the B side, with "So Sad About Us" and "The Night" appearing on the A Side.

Contents

Development

Originally Paul Weller had wanted to exclude the track from the All Mod Cons album, on the grounds that the arrangement hadn't developed during the recording sessions. He was persuaded to include the track by the band's producer Vic Coppersmith-Heaven. The song suffered a BBC airplay ban.

Lyrics

The song tells the story of an unnamed narrator travelling on his own who enters a deserted London Underground Tube station at midnight to get the last train home carrying a take-away meal. As he buys a ticket from an automated machine he is accosted by a gang of shouting drunken thugs (who smell 'of pubs, Wormwood Scrubs' and 'too many right-wing meetings'), asking him threateningly whether he has money on him. When he replies that he has a little money the gang assaults him, kicking him in the face when he is down on the floor with bovver boots. The song ends with the gang having robbed him and made off leaving him lying injured losing consciousness ("And the last thing that I saw as I lay there on the floor"), looking up at wall advertising posters as he realises that the attackers have the keys to his house, and worried that wife may be in danger ("I glanced back on my life and thought about my wife, 'cause they took the keys and she'll think it's me").

The song starts with the atmospheric sounds of a London Underground station, then a tense, syncopated beat carried by the bass guitar. The lyrics are sentimental, contrasting the warmth of home and domestic life with the dangers of 1970s London's urban decay and casual late-night violence. Tension is heightened by a heartbeat audio effect in the left stereo channel at points during the song.

Cover versions

  • Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine released a version of it as the B-side of their single release "Do Re Me So Far So Good" (1992).
  • The Bad Shepherds covered the song in their album Yan, Tyan, Tethra, Methra! (2009).
  • References

    Down in the Tube Station at Midnight Wikipedia


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