In the world of metal, Clutch occupy a specific yet wide-reaching niche. On the one hand, the band’s fun-as-fuck boogie-metal doesn’t quite fit into any specific subgenre, and is therefore hard to lock down. On the other, the band’s high-octane mixture of danceable riffs, tailfeather-friendly rhythms, and madcap rhymes about fast cars and Bigfoot ensure that if they’re playing, people will show up, and they’ll party. It’s the latter of those aspects that leave us especially impressed, with frontman Neil Fallon’s lyrics constantly grabbing our attention and yanking us to our feet.
Here are 11 Clutch lyrics that make us happy to live in Neil’s world…
“Crucial Velocity” (Earth Rocker, 2013)
“Doesn’t really matter how it all started
Doesn’t really matter how it’s gonna end
Reality is getting too damn unpredictable
Unpredictable times call for the reliable friend”
Damn, son, what a surprisingly-astute summation of how so many of us feel all the time. Whether it’s driving fast, blasting music, or smoking weed, the pillars of our lives are what keep us going during these often chaotic times. Definitely a lyric that makes me feel seen.
“Promoter (of Earthbound Causes)” (Blast Tyrant, 2004)
“Cooled down my temper, tried to remember
What it was I wasn’t to lose
And I probably could were it not for
The beer and the broads and the broads and the booze”
We love a good man’s-ruin vibe, and “Promoter (of Earthbound Causes)” hits all of those notes good and hard. The lyric’s semi-jumbled language reminds us of the way our brains feel while crawling away from the war on one’s own liver. Somewhere between old bluesman attitude, college-kid swagger, and the great god Pan lies this track’s power.
“Texan Book of the Dead” (Clutch, 1995)
“Be leary of Timothy
Clear light and all that
If you want light, go steal the sun
Hell, that boy don’t know crap
“If you want to know paradise
Do you wanna know hell?
Want to drink that cool, clear liquor?
Better dig a little deeper in the well, my man”
Progressive thinking doesn’t need to be longwinded psychedelic drivel. Here, Clutch offer a backwoods look at enlightenment that takes a sideswipe at famous LSD advocate Timothy Leary. Sometimes, your third eye just wants to watch a demo derby.
“Son of Virginia” (Psychic Warfare, 2015)
“It was the morning of All Saint’s Day ‘98
When that old blind dog started calling me associate
Wouldn’t have bothered me so much were it not for the fact
That was the truth of it
“Recite our lineage and genealogy
You’ve got to know your history, Son of Virginia
Stare into the embers on the first of November
And remember you were born a true son of Virginia”
Though it was born in Ireland, Halloween is America’s great holiday. Somehow, Neil Fallon touches on that without ever mentioning pumpkins or October, instead tapping into the menacing folk witchcraft that travels along the ley lines of this great nation. Sin will find you out when the veil is thin enough.
“The Great Outdoors!” (Pure Rock Fury, 2001)
“Remember when I told you that I was a samurai?
Well, the fact of the matter is, that was a lie
There were some other things that I’d rather not recall
Y’all can blame it all on the alcohol”
I’m sorry, this lyric just cracks us up. We keep imagining some old, bearded drunk explaining that he was thrown out of his shogunate while ashing his cigarette on his pants leg. There but for the grace of God go we.
“The Face” (Earth Rocker, 2013)
“They arrive on a sunny day, offering the residents a better way
Before you know it, you’re in line and chanting refrains
They reel you in and then they drown you out
“First they tell you you’re gonna lose your soul
And then they tell you, ‘Find another home’
And then you take a good look around, and they stole your rock and roll
And once it’s gone, you never get it back”
“The Face” is Clutch’s big spiritual statement, with images of Les Pauls ascending into the sky and the Powers That Be creating the universe with music. And yet this opening lyric really drives home why we need to put our hearts into rock music. Never forget, there will always be someone who hates you for the love that rock and roll gives you. Don’t let them take it from you.
“A Quick Death In Texas” (Psychic Warfare, 2015)
“I crawled my way into The Doom Saloon
In an attempt to cauterize my wounds
I did a terrible job and they became powerfully infected
I found myself atop a stolen Roan
Quite convinced that I would never see home
And all on account of my lack of common manners”
Nothing like a song about nonstop misfortune to make a band feel relatable. In the tradition of Eddie Harris’ “Bad Luck Is All I Have,” “A Quick Death In Texas” details a dude on the frontier getting himself into one bad situation after another. Plus, that “powerfully infected” line is pretty damn funny.
“You Can’t Stop Progress” (From Beale Street to Oblivion, 2007)
“I understand there’s no victimless crimes
That being said, I feel rather victimized
And I will seek substantial compensation
Whether legally, legal-ish, or otherwise”
There’s nothing like the word “legal-ish” to drive home that dangling-from-a-car-passenger-seat atmosphere. Clutch’s song about being an old-school dirtbag in our subdued modern culture touches something in all of us who sometime feel like we were born at the wrong time. Sometimes, it’s not easy being a bonafide man of action.
“Emily Dickinson” (Book of Bad Decisions, 2018)
Won’t you lay your hair down low?
Staring out the windowpane
There’s so much more to know
All buttoned down in Victoria-black
Let’s watch the white clouds run
With the cool grass on our backs”
Writing a song about one of America’s most important poets is one thing. Writing a song about how you want to take her out on a cloud-watching date? Clutch to a T. This song could either be a call to every introvert to break out of their shell, or literally a love poem to Emily Dickinson. Either way, boss.
“Escape from the Prison Planet” (Clutch, 1995)
“Then against my better judgment I went walking out that door
I smiled at one person, then I nodded to three more
One man asked me for a dollar, I asked him what it’s for
He said, ‘I have seen them.’ I said, ‘Okay, it’s yours.’”
Straight-up, we have all had that moment. You’re careening out of a club or a bar or a basement show, and you run into some weird-ass stranger who says some weird-ass shit, and you respond, Right on. In four lines, Clutch captured this bizarre, relatable instant perfectly. Good on ‘em. Good on Neil.
“Oh, Isabella” (Earth Rocker, 2013)
“Oh Isabella, your ship’s run aground
Kneel at the sword, scream at the clouds
Oh Isabella, there’s smoke on the wind
Jaguar and fever have taken your men”
Fallon has said that “Oh, Isabella” is about a Conquistador in love with his queen, even as he suffers an ocean away in what’s now Mexico. The historical concept of being taken by jaguar and fever is one we understand reading about every ill-advised conquest of a foreign land. But it’s kneel at the sword, scream at the clouds which paints an instantaneous and unforgettable image in our minds.