The Napping Wizard Sessions


One Song: The Clash, Wrong 'Em Boyo

Season 2, Ep. 9

In this series on The Napping Wizard Sessions called ONE SONG I’m taking deep dives into single songs. In this episode, I take The Clash’s WRONG 'EM BOYO and chart the history behind it that connects late 1800s America through the true story and legend of Stagger Lee with the Jim Crow American south, reggae and the Jamaican Rude Boys, the Black Panthers, John Sinclair, the mods, skinheads and the birth of punk in the UK, and push it up against the anti-immigration and racist climate we're witnessing today in the dis-United States. For what appears to be a simple song, after peeling back the layers, it ends up becoming something like an anthem for solidarity, uniting racial and social struggles, and fraught with the glorious embellishment and vernacular drift of oral traditions. A lot of people are curious - What does 'Em Boyo mean?


Audio Ammunition. Documentary of The Clash. GooglePlay Original, 2013.

Brown, Cecil. I Stagolee. CA: North Atlantic Books, 2006.

Brown, Cecil. Stagolee Shot Billy. MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Chuck D. Stay Free: The Story of The Clash, Spotify original series, 2019.

Cox, Alex. Sid And Nancy + DVD extras. UK: Initial Pictures, 1986 and DVD extras.

Egan, Sean. The Clash On The Clash. IL: Chicago Review Press, 2018.

Gates Jr., Henry Louis. The Signifyin(g) Monkey. NY: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Gray, Marcus. Route 19 Revisited: The Clash and London Calling. UK: Random House, 2010.

Henzell, Perry. The Harder They Come. Kingston, Jamaica: International Films, 1972.

Lomax, Alan and John. American Ballads And Folk Songs. NY: Dover, 1994.

Marcus, Greil. Mystery Train. NY: Plume, Revised Edition, 2015.

Temple, Julien. The Future is Unwritten. Parallel Films Production, 2007.

…and various other sundries on YouTube


00:00:00 The Clash, Wrong ‘Em Boyo, 1979

00:05:43 Lloyd Price, Stagger Lee, 1958

00:08:12 Herb Weidoeft and His Band, Stack ‘O Lee Blues, c1924

00:08:42 Gertrude Ma Rainey, Stack O’Lee Blues, 1926

00:08:57 Amy Winehouse, live at Arena Anhembi, São Paulo, Brazil January 15, 2011

00:09:11 Cliff Edwards, Stack O Lee Blues, 1928.

00:09:28 Furry Lewis, Billy Lyons and Stackolee, 1927

00:09:40 Mississippi John Hurt, Stack O’ Lee, 1928

00:10:10 The Clash, Career Opportunities, 1977

00:10:29 Frank Hutchinson, Stackalee, 1927

00:10:39 Archibald, Stack-A-Lee, Parts 1 and 2, 1946

00:11:08 Fats Domino, Stagger Lee, Live at Montreux, 1973

00:11:32 Dion, Stagger Lee, 1962

00:11:51 Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Stagger Lee, 1996

00:12:20 Taj Mahal, Stack O’Lee, 1969

00:12:49 Keb Mo, from the movie Honey Drippers, 2007

00:13:02 R.L. Burnside, Stack O Lee and Billy Lyons, (year ?)

00:13:32 Sidney Bechet, Old Stack O’Lee Blues, 1946

00:13:42 Wilson Pickett, Stagger Lee, 1967

00:14:05 Elvis, rehearsal recording, 1970

00:14:17 Bob Dylan, Stack A Lee, 1993

00:14:35 Woody Guthrie, Stackolee Muleskinner Blues, 1944

00:15:00 James Brown, Stagger Lee, 1967

00:15:18 The Black Keys, Stag Shot Billy, 2004

00:15:51 Sol Hop’opi’i, Stack O’ Lee Blues, 1938

00:16:17 The Rulers, Wrong Emboyo, 1967

00:19:44 The Clash, Wrong ‘Em Boyo, instrumental, 1979

00:21:09 Junior Murvin, Police and Thieves, 1976

00:22:00 The Clash, White Riot, 1977

00:23:04 MC5, Kick Out The Jams, 1969

00:24:05 John Lennon, John Sinclair, 1971

00:24:57 John Lennon, David Frost Show, 1971

00:25:50 The Clash, I Fought The Law, 1977

00:27:05 The Who, Won’t Get Fooled Again, 1971

00:27:53 The Rulers, Copasetic, 1966

00:29:01 Jimmy Cliff, They Harder They Come, 1972

00:30:03 The Clash, Paul’s Tune, 1979

00:31:10 The Clash, (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais, 1977

00:32:50 The Rulers, Don’t Be a Rude Boy, 1966

00:33:22 Bob Marley and the Wailers, One Love, 1977

00:33:48 The Clash, Wrong ‘Em Boyo, 1979

00:35:17 The Rulers, Wrong Emboyo, 1967

00:36:00 The Slickers, Johnny Too Bad, 1971

00:37:12 The Rulers, Be Good, 1966

00:39:07 Joe Strummer, hostility clip from The Future Is Unwritten, 2007

00:39:32 The Clash, Rudie Can’t Fail, 1979

00:39:57 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Stagger Lee, 1996

00:40:15 The Clash, Guns of Brixton, 1979

00:40: 34 Mississippi John Hurt, Stack O’ Lee, 1928

00:40:43 The Clash, Guns of Brixton, 1979

00:40:53 The Clash, Death or Glory, 1979

00:41:54 Furry Lewis, Billy Lyons and Stackolee, 1927

00:44:35 The Clash, Wrong ‘Em Boyo, 1979

00:47:45 (007) Shanty Town, Desmond Dekker and the Aces, c1972

00:48:46 Bob Marley and the Wailers, Buffalo Soldier, 1983

00:49:06 The Rulers, Wrong Emboyo, 1967

00:51:07 The Clash, Wrong ‘Em Boyo, 1979

00:52:04 Bob Marley, Jammin’, 1977

00:52:19 Scotty, Draw Your Breaks, 1971

00:53:02 The Clash, Wrong ‘Em Boyo, instrumental, 1979

00:55:56 Joe Strummer, on punk, The Future Is Unwritten, 2007

00:56:17 Joe Strummer, on drugs, The Future Is Unwritten, 2007

00:56:23 Joe Strummer, on pitfalls, The Future Is Unwritten, 2007

00:56:54 The Clash, Police and Thieves, 1977

00:57:47 Joe Strummer, on people, The Clash On Broadway Interview, 1981

00:59.16 Bob Marley, Punky Reggae Party, 1977

01:00:31 The Clash, Wrong ‘Em Boyo, live, Capital Theater, Passaic, NJ, 1980

01:00:38 The Clash, Wrong ‘Em Boyo, 1979

Tracking recorded at BRIC podcast studio, Brooklyn, August 17, 2019

More Episodes


Interview: Moo Kwon Han

Season 3, Ep. 1
In this episode I talk with multi-media artist Moo Kwon Han about his recent exhibition, DRUM, at the Gyeongin Art Museum in Seoul, Korea. To make this work, he was granted access to multiple power facilities, many of them nuclear, all in South Korea. In our conversation we unravel the works in the exhibition, from the initial inspirational image of a detail of yellow drums containing radioactively contaminated clothing – a mere fraction of the total drums in this facility – all the way through to a final musical score that encapsulates both the path and the contents of the exhibition. When we see artworks in museums and galleries, it’s like looking at a lightening strike. We’re amazed by the instantaneous moment and evidence of what was created, but we really don’t understand what went into its making. In our conversation, I draw out the creative path Han followed in constructing Drum. I encourage you to look at his website before listening: Han was born in Gyeongju, Korea, andcurrently lives in New York. He has had solo shows at Kumho Museum of Art, Seoul (2017,2020 forthcoming),Doosan Gallery New York (2009), CUE Art Foundation New York(2009), and Gyeongin (Kyung-In) Art Museum, Seoul (2000, 2019). Han’s work has been included in group exhibitions at Cube Museum, Seongnam;NYMedia Center (2017); The Fondazione Filiberto Menna, Salerno, Italy; Galeria U Jezuitow, Poznan, Poland; Bund18 Creative Center, Shanghai, China; Coreana Museum, Seoul, Korea; Nation Centre for Performing Art, Asia Society Mumbai Centre, Mumbai, India; Metropolitan Pavilion, NY; David Zwirner Gallery, NY; Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery/ Asia Society Museum NYC; Unit B Gallery, San Antonio: Hoam Gallery and National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul.​Han received an MFA from the School of Visual Arts NYC (2006), attended the Skowhegan School (2008) and participated in residencies at Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (2015-16), Seoul Foundation for Art and Culture (2013-14), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program (2011-12), LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island (2010), Art OMI (2009) and CUE Art Foundation(2008) and was a Smack Mellon Hot Pick. He was awarded a Korea Hydro Nuclear Power, Co. andGyeongju Cultural Foundation Grant (2020),Puffin Foundation Grant, and New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellowship in Digital/Electronic Arts (2009) and joined as a review panelist (2014/2017).