My Top 1000 Songs #257: Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
For awhile, when I first got into the Jam back in high school, I found "Down In The Tube Station At Midnight" to be one of the band's most enjoyable songs. Like most of their third album, 1979's remarkable All Mod Cons, there was a huge leap forward musically and sonically. You've got the sound of the trains, the punchy yet restrained verses with that riveting bassline kicking loose into a winning chorus that felt totally fresh and thrilling. Ok, I found Paul Weller's accent a little hard to parse, but I just loved the sound of the song, the unexpected musical dynamics, the percussive breakdown in the middle, the sing-along chorus--"I'm down in the Tube station at midnight, whoa-oh-oh!" Yeah! Shout along, baby!
It was probably a few years before I really sat down and figured out the lyrics. And that's when things got a lot darker. Like, a lot. The narrator gets the shit kicked out of him by racist thugs; and the song closes as they're heading over to his home, where his wife expects him to be the one opening the door.
It's harrowing, and, frankly, hard to listen to. I can still spin the first 2/3 of the song and just love it to death for its musical sophistication and cathartic presentation... but I don't always make it to the end.Live in 1980: