Revenge Recommends: "England Belongs To Me" by Cock Sparrer


Cock Sparrer were a bunch of Cockney punks from the East End of London, who refused to be signed by Malcolm MacLaren in 1977, and went on to spearhead the Oi scene. England Belongs To Me was a 1982 single. In the context of the mass colonization of working-class London by people from the Third World it is easy to see the song as nationalistic, but - unfortunately - this is far from the case. Although feeding off their popularity with nationalists and racially-aware working class people, Cock Sparrer were always careful to remain politically neutral.

England Belongs To Me has a lot of the punk and oi aggro but this is balanced by the slightly camp, almost wistful singing of Colin McFaull and the expressive guitar lines of Mick Beaufoy.

LYRICS:

Years of being told you ain't as good as us
Join the line, sign your name
And they all said that our country's going bust
But no-one's fooling us again

[Chorus]
England belong's to me
A nation's pride the dirty water on the rivers
No one can take away our memory
Oh, England belongs to me

We'll show the world that the boys are back to stay
And you all know what we can do
Heads held high, fighting all the way
For the red, white, and blue

While the lyrics "Heads held high, fighting all the way/ For the red, white, and blue" have an obvious nationalistic resonance. Other lyrics can be taken to refer to class. "Years of being told you ain't as good as us/ Join the line, sign your name" is a reference to class inequality and unemployment, which was very high in 1982.

The line from the chorus, "A nation's pride the dirty water on the rivers," might even be an ironic comment on national pride, along the lines of 'how can you respect a country that doesn't look after the working class or the environment.'

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