Song of the Week: “I’da Called You Woody Joe” by The Gaslight Anthem


Some songs enthrall us because of their artistic and original music, and we love others for their evocative and memorable lyrics.  Then there are the songs that capture our hearts with the inspiring stories behind them, the tributes and the love songs.  “I’da Called You Woody, Joe” is one of those songs.  At first glance, it seems like a bizarre, cryptic tune, upbeat and catchy but nonetheless utterly pointless.  The real depth and beauty of this song, however, comes from its history.  It’s a tribute from Brian Fallon, the lead singer of The Gaslight Anthem, to a man named Joe Strummer, the lead guitarist of a band called The Clash.  Rico, the man mentioned at the beginning of the song, owned a record store when Brian was young.  He bought one of The Clash’s albums for Brian, claiming that the music would change his life.  Rico was right, and Joe Strummer’s work grew into a huge influence on Brian’s own songwriting and even his life in general.  Many, many of the phrases used in “I’da Called You Woody, Joe” are direct quotes from songs by The Clash, and even the title is a reference to how Joe used to call himself Woody because Woody Guthrie left such an impression on him.  To Brian, Joe was his Woody, his inspiration, his hero.

Joe died in 2002, and as he writes in the song, Brian “never got to tell him, so I just wrote it down” as a letter to Joe’s wife, Lucinda, to let her know how much Joe meant to him.  You can practically feel his gratitude and admiration flowing through the notes and the lines of the piece.  When I read this story, I was impressed by the effort that Brian put forth to express his love for his childhood hero.  The end result is pleasant, memorable, nostalgic, and moving, and it made me think: How many of us would go to such great lengths to show someone whom we admire, someone who changed our lives for the better, how much we appreciate them?  How often do we take the men and women who drive us to become more for granted?  And how many times have we sung out to God our love and gratitude for His immeasurably marvelous influence on our lives?  May we take a cue from Brian Fallon and seek to edify the “Woodys” in our lives with a heartfelt, genuine show of appreciation.

Here is the link: I’da Called You Woody, Joe

And here are the lyrics: 

I was crawling around in my head in the haze of a trance.
Rico said, “I’ma turn you onto a sound, cool out your head. This is the sound from Camden town,”

And then I heard it like a shot through my skull to my brain,
I felt my fingertips tingle, and it started to rain,
When the walls of my bedroom were tremblin’ around me,
This ramshackle voice over attack of a bluesbeat,
Tellin’ me, he’s only looking for fun.
And this was the sound, of the very last gang in town.

As heard by my wild young heart,
Like directions on a cold, dark night,
Sayin’, “Let it out, let it out, let it out, you’re doing all right.”
And I heard it in his chain gang soul.
It wasn’t just the same sad song.
Sayin’, “Let it out, let it out, let it out, you’re doing all right.”
And I’m doing all right,
Are you doing all right?

And I carried these songs as a comfort wherever I’d go.
They was there when my summers was high,
There when she left me alone.
Saying, “The soul is hard to find.”

And I never got to tell him, so I just wrote it down.
I wrapped a couple chords around it and I let it come out,
When the walls of my bedroom were tremblin’ around me,
This ramshackle voice over attack of a bluesbeat,
And a girl, on the excitement gang.
And this was the sound, of the very last gang in town.

As heard by my wild young heart,
Like directions on a cold, dark night,
Sayin’, “Let it out, let it out, let it out, you’re doing all right.”
And I heard it in his chain gang soul.
It wasn’t just the same sad song.
Sayin’, “Let it out, let it out, let it out, you’re doing all right.”
And are you doing all right?
Are you doing all right?

As heard by my wild young heart,
Like directions on a cold, dark night,
Sayin’, “Let it out, let it out, let it out, you’re doing all right.”
And I heard it in his chain gang soul.
It wasn’t just the same sad song.
Sayin’, “Let it out, let it out, let it out, you’re doing all right.”
And are you doing all right?

And that was the sound,
I hear the sound,
Do you hear the sound?
I hear the sound,
Of the very last gang in town.


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