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The real story behind Sex Pistol’s ‘God Save the Queen’ and how it is related to the Jubilee

This is the story of the song that, casually, coincides with the celebration of the Queen’s 25 years on the British throne.

Who would have guessed that Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee celebrations would give rise to one of the most iconic punk songs in history: God Save the Queen by The Sex Pistols. The song, a clear statement against the British monarchy, had a limited distribution in the UK and has become an anti-monarchy anthem, together with the image released for the cover of the single.

This is the story of the song that, casually, coincides with the celebration of the Queen’s 25 years on the British throne and how 45 years it will be released again but this time, on the occasion of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth.

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Is God Save the Queen a protest song?

Yes, but it was not intended to be a direct attack on the British Monarchy. The song, launched in 1977 was an expression of the band’s feelings toward the social and political climate, mixed with the rising anti-monarchy sentiment that started growing in the English working class.

As lead singer John Lydon told Rolling Stone, “It was expressing my point of view on the Monarchy in general and on anybody that begs your obligation with no thought, that’s unacceptable to me. You have to earn the right to call on my friendship and my loyalty.”

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The song takes its title directly from the national anthem of the United Kingdom, which has the same name and it was considered highly controversial for making an indirect reference to the Queen’s reign by calling it a “fascist regime” and saying that “there is no future in England’s dreaming”; however, later it was cleared that this was intended to reflect the feeling of the English working class.

Paul Cook, the band’s drummer, even went further that the song was not written to match the Silver Jubilee celebrations since they were not aware of such. “We weren’t aware of it at the time. It wasn’t a contrived effort to go out and shock everyone.”

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Even more, the original title of the song was “No Future” and was first performed on tour in 1976, however the band’s manager Malcolm McLaren, decided to embrace the potential for provocation and suggested renaming it as the national anthem.

An iconic punk design

No matter if you are not a Sex Pistols fan or punk lover, you have certainly seen the iconic intervention of one of the Queen’s official Silver Jubilee portraits with a safety pin through her lips and a ransom-like note around it.

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The authorship of this image hasn’t been resolved at all. Some attribute it to Jamie Reid, a former classmate of the band’s manager Malcolm McLaren; while others consider it a work done by McLaren himself.

Was the song banned in the U.K?

Not precisely. As we mentioned before, the song was launched in 1977 in a time when national celebrations were happening all around the United Kingdom.

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Rather than saying that it was totally banned and prohibited, most radio stations like BBC decided not to include it in their daily programming so as not to offend the Queen.

However, it did not stop the song to becoming the No. 2 hit song in the U.K, only above Rod Stewart. Over the years, rumors have persisted that charts were manipulated to keep the song away from becoming the No. 1 hit so as not to offend the Queen.

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The Sex Pistols took the controversy further by having a gig on the very same day as the Jubilee celebrations on a boat called Queen Elizabeth. After the concert and once they docked, various members of the boat party were arrested for disturbances.

Despite the song becoming a hit, many were not happy with its content. Monarchy supporters went beyond and threatened and hurt some of the band members.

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Now, the song will be re-released to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in a very different context.

Here are the full lyrics of Sex Pistol’s “God Save the Queen”.

God save the Queen

A fascist regime

They made you a moron

Potential H-bomb

God save the Queen

She ain’t no human being

There is no future

In England’s dreaming

Don’t be told about what you want

Don’t be told about what you need

No future, no future, no future for you

God save the Queen

We mean it, man

We love our Queen

God saves

God save the Queen

Tourists are money

But our figurehead

Is not what she seems

God save history

God save your mad parade

Oh Lord, have mercy!

All crimes are paid

When there’s no future, how can there be sin?

We’re the flowers in the dustbin

We’re the poison in the human machine

We’re the future, we’re the future

God save the Queen

We mean it, man

We love our Queen

God saves

God save the Queen

We mean it, man

We love our Queen

God saves

No future, no future

No future, no future

No future, no future

No future, no future

No future, no future

No future, no future

No future for you

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