Category Archives: rat trap

The Boomtown Rats were a British answer to Springsteen with ‘Rat Trap’ (1978)

I dunno – maybe it’s the piano crescendos, maybe its the urban romeo and juliet despair. Whatever –  I present this song by The Boomtown Rats as the best British take on of Springsteen’s rock n’ roll poetry of the streets. It’s marvellous. It also got to No.1 and stayed there for 2 weeks in the UK top 40 in October 1978, sandwiched between Number One’s from John Travolta & Olivia Newton John’s ‘Summer Nights’ and Rod Stewart’s ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’ ……….(ffs)

A marvellous song, a great, simple tale of urban despair. Love it! Here are the lyrics if you wish to singalong (I love the fact that ‘Judy’ is down to her last 50p);

There was a lot of rockn’ going on that night
Cruising time for the young bright lights
Just down past the gasworks, by the meat factory door
The five lamp boys were coming on strong
The Saturday night city beat had already started and
The pulse of the corner boys sprang into action
And young Billy watched it all under the yellow street light
And said “tonight, of all nights, there’s gonna be a fight”

Billy don’t like it living here in this town
He says the traps have been sprung long before he was born
He says “hope bites the dust behind all the closed doors
And puss and grime ooze from its scab crusted sores
There’s screaming and crying in the high rise blocks”
It’s a rat trap, Billy, but you’re already caught
But you can make it if you wanna or you need it bad enough
You’re young and good looking and you’re acting kind of tough
Anyway, it’s Saturday night, time to see what’s going down
Put on the bright suit, Billy, head for the right side of town
It’s only 8 o’clock, but you’re already bored
You don’t know what it is, but there’s got to be more
You’d better find a way out, hey, kick down the door
It’s a rat trap and you’ve been caught

In this town, Billy says, “everybody’s tryin’ to tell you what to do”
In this town, Billy says, “everybody says you gotta follow rules”
You walk up to the traffic lights,
Switch from your left to right
You push in that button, and that button comes alight 
It tells you 
“Walk, don’t walk
Talk, don’t talk”

Hey Billy take a walk…with me
Do you want that misery
Sweethearts run free

Little Judy’s trying to watch “Top of the Pops”
But mum and dad are fighting don’t they ever stop
She takes off her coat and walks out to the street
It’s cold on that road, but it’s got that home beat
Deep down in her pockets she finds 50p
Hey, is that any way for a young girl to be
“I’m gonna get out of school, work in some factory
Work all the hours God gave me, get myself a little easy money
now, now, now”

Her mind’s made up, she walks down the road
Her hands in her pockets, coat buttoned ‘gainst the cold
She finally finds Billy down at the Italian cafe
And when he’s drunk it’s hard to understand what Billy says
But then he mumbles in his coffee and suddenly roars
“It’s a rat trap Judy, and we’ve been caught”