“Should I Stay or Should I Go” is a song by the English punk rock band The Clash, from their album Combat Rock. It was written in 1981 and featured Mick Jones on lead vocals. It became the band’s only number-one single on the UK Singles Chart, a decade after it was originally released. In November 2004, it was ranked at 228 on Rolling Stone “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. In 2009 it was ranked 42nd on VH1’s program 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs.
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Many rumours have arisen about the song’s content, such as Jones’ impending dismissal from The Clash or the rocky personal relationship between Jones and singer Ellen Foley, but Jones himself says:
It wasn’t about anybody specific and it wasn’t pre-empting my leaving The Clash. It was just a good rockin’ song, our attempt at writing a classic… When we were just playing, that was the kind of thing we used to like to play. – Mick Jones, 1991
The Spanish backing vocals were sung by Joe Strummer and Joe Ely:
On the spur of the moment I said ‘I’m going to do the backing vocals in Spanish,’ … We needed a translator so Eddie Garcia, the tape operator, called his mother in Brooklyn Heights and read her the lyrics over the phone and she translated them. But Eddie and his mum are Ecuadorian, so it’s Ecuadorian Spanish that me and Joe Ely are singing on the backing vocals. – Joe Strummer, 1991
The song is featured in the trailer for You, Me and Dupree and Rugrats Go Wild, where it was featured on its soundtrack. The live version of the song was also featured in the opening credits for the film 28 Days. The song’s opening guitar riff was used in One Direction’s 2012 hit single, “Live While We’re Young”, which caused controversy.