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Charlie Don't Surf Lyrics

Artist: The Clash
Album: Sandinista!

(The Clash)

Charlie don't surf and we think he should
Charlie don't surf and you know that it ain't no good
Charlie don't surf for his hamburger Momma
Charlie's gonna be a napalm star

Everybody wants to rule the world
Must be something we get from birth
One truth is we never learn
Satellites will make space burn

We've been told to keep the strangers out
We don't like them starting to hang around
We don't like them all over town
Across the world we are going to blow them down


The reign of the super powers must be over
So many armies can't free the earth
Soon the rock will roll over
Africa is choking on their Coca Cola

It's a one a way street in a one horse town
One way people starting to brag around
You can laugh, put them down
These one way people gonna blow us down


Charlie don't surf he'll never learn
Charlie don't surf though he's got a gun
Charlie don't surf think that he should
Charlie don't surf we really think he should
Charlie don't surf

Charlie don't surf and we think he should
Charlie don't surf and you know that it ain't no good
Charlie don't surf for his hamburger Momma
Charlie don't surf


by tomcat on 1/29/2009 8:23am
after second chorus it should be: "these one way people gonna mow us down" (not "blow us down")
by ramona is special on 7/4/2009 3:51pm
i don't get what this song is about at all
by daner on 7/12/2009 3:06am
"charlie don't surf!" is a phrase from the movie "apocalypse now" -- seen it? that might help you "get it"
by lagartija on 8/15/2009 8:08am
"Charlie" was what the GIs called the Vietnamese...
The "We" in the song is the Imperialist Americans... thinking that American values should be spread to the world... here, it's surfing, Coca Cola, hamburgers...
That's how I interpret it. I didn't catch the Apocalypse Now reference, I guess it's been too long since I've watched that film!!
by Dr. Froawst on 10/31/2009 4:45am
The Fact that the quote "Charlie don't Surf" is in Apocalyspe Now has nothing to do with the Song the Fact that Kilgore said 'Charlie Dont Surf" in the movie was pointless.
by dl3 on 11/22/2009 2:38pm
you shouldn't try to understand everything. it takes all the fun out of it. don't put so much value on who "gets it" and who doesn't. just because you can put down a paragraph on the interpretation of a clash song doesn't mean you rock and roll.
by chokin on my coca-cola on 12/17/2009 2:08am
this was prophetic when it came out and we're about to see it come to fruition
by Sitdwn on 1/21/2010 7:59pm
which member of the band wrote this?
by TrueBut on 4/3/2010 7:08pm
Fairly ironic for the British to lecture on the evils of imperialism is it not? How many cannon did they fire into the naked "savage" over the years? Who actually brough slavery to the Americas.. institutionalized it no less? Good ole' short term memory limey, that's who.
by Effy on 4/6/2010 9:29pm
Mick Jone did the instrumentation and Joe Strummer wrote the lyrics.
by Feo on 5/5/2010 10:00am
Truebut: there have always been enlightened people within an empire who are critical and see through the propaganda, calling it for what it is...
by Stephen on 7/16/2010 12:58am
Discovered the song recently;It's infectious! So happy, So hopefull,despite/regardless of who Charlie is,which i got over speculating about.Wake up singing a new version every day. Just like Charlie. Taught it to the band and, and don't know whats more fun; the bass grove or singing it every morning.?
by Strummer on 8/18/2010 1:16pm
Charlie is a reference aka dink gook for the viet cong the song title was from the movie as Joe Strummer addmited back in is a great song,all ways will be.
by Sandinista on 12/13/2010 4:50pm
"Charlie" is a cold war reference to (specifically) an enemy of the United States Military. In cold war conflicts in other parts of the world, the name "Charlie" comes up, sometimes even as a code name for someone who is in command.

This song isn't specific to the Vietnam war, it's more towards anyone who the United States considered an Enemy during the cold war (hence the line "Africa is choking on their Coca Cola"; Africa was a site of numerous cold war conflicts).

Whoever said you shouldn't try to "get" the meaning of the song, well, I think Joe Strummer would like you to "get it."
by Normancha on 1/28/2011 4:05pm
To understand this tune you have to understand Joe, which is too far above you.
by whyarewedoingthis on 7/30/2011 4:34pm
I don't think it makes sense to refer to The Clash as "The British." I highly doubt this song can be considered representative of widely held opinions in Great Britain in the early '80s. Nor would most Brits agree with many of the sentiments in other Clash songs. Case in point-- "London's Burning."
by diego on 8/10/2011 12:59pm
Certainly it has something to do with the movie,as it starts and ends with the chopper, just like the movie starts.
by Zandyy on 10/3/2011 12:07am
What is wrong with these people who DO NOT GET THE SONG? Listen to words CAREFULLY and you will get it! This band "CLASH"were very political, I think JOE STRUMMER would really appreciate you really listening to the words as well as you listen to the music.
by Eric on 1/14/2012 12:49pm
The phrase "Charlie Don't Surf" is taken from Franics Ford Capolla's film, Apocolypse Now. Kilgore wants to storm a beach and take it over, so they can surf ; hes not all there.

Willard: Are you crazy, Goddammit? Don't you think its a little risky for some R&R?
Kilgore: If I say its safe to surf this beach, Captain, then its safe to surf this beach! I mean, I'm not afraid to surf this place, I'll surf this whole fucking place!
Kilgore: Charlie don't surf!
by greggo on 1/23/2012 1:21pm
The scene in Apocolypse Now is based on a real incident in one of the Arab Isreali wars where a Isreali commander scuba dove a famous reef in the Egyptian side of the Red Sea while fighting was going on all around.
by Sam on 1/23/2012 2:26pm
To the people saying Joe Strummer in the Clash are to 'beyond us' or whatever are totally off.... the Clash aren't trying to outsmart their listeners, they want people to get their music and listen to their lyrics.
"You can laugh, put them down
These one way people gonna blow us down"
Pretty spot on in terms of September 11.
by eli on 3/11/2012 11:39am
by iScratchi on 8/16/2012 12:01am
@truebut I think you will find that Christopher Columbus brought slavery to the america's, a Genoa'n (now Italy) acting on behalf of the Spanish. A political commentary on all western powers, not in defence of English imperialism.
by Kalen on 7/8/2013 8:24pm
Charlie was the name given to the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. They were officially called the Viet Cong, but that was shortened to V.C. which stood for Victor Charlie in military jargon. SO..the Americans ended up calling them Charlie.
by youranidiot on 9/1/2013 6:14pm
Truebut, you're literally retarted. Just because joe happens to be british doesn't mean he represents "the british" or blindly supports everything the British government has ever done. There's no reason why he shouldn't be able to criticise what the american's did in vietnam. You haven't learned anything if you still see everything as a war between different nations. Of course, your ignorance might be explained by your being overly patriotic, which your comment seems to indicate.
by Todd on 9/25/2013 9:26am
Charlie is specifically Vietnamese. Viet Cong = V.C. = Victor Charlie = Charlie.
by Mark on 12/22/2014 6:16pm
The super powers dictate to the world and so charlie don't surf (but we think he should). It's about human rights.
by suicideofpeople on 9/23/2015 3:03pm
So who really is Charlie? And why he can't surf?
by Adrian on 4/13/2017 5:41pm
this isnt off London Calling...get the right album imagery please!

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