Fan slide show:
“Rudie Can’t Fail” is, in my opinion, the highlight of side one of London Calling. Its a fabulous punk/reggae number with fantastic work from everyone involved. The horns alone are worth the price of admission.
SongFacts.com contains some information about what the song is all about:
A “Rudie” is a “Rude Boy,” which is a term for the first English generation born to Jamaican parents who had emigrated to England – the so called JamEnglish generation. These “Rude Boys” were often looked down upon as irresponsible, which is the theme of this song.
In essence, the song is a sort of conversation between adults telling the Rudie to shape up and get a job, while the Rudie is responding that he’s going to be fine. He doesn’t want to “live a life in service” but believes he has a greater purpose.
Actually, the songfact links mentions that the line “like the Doctor who was born for a purpose” is a reference to reggae artist Dr. Alimantado, who recorded a song called “Born for a Purpose:”
The theme of not just signing on to a 9 to 5 job for the sake of fitting occurs a couple of times on London Calling. Its a fabulous punk theme and one that rarely comes across as playful and joyous as it does on “Rudie Can’t Fail.”