Town Called Malice chords by The Jam

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Town Called Malice | Chords + Lyrics


||: (D B A) :|| x4 bass intro
||: D5 | D5 (D6) | D | D (D6) :|| keys intro

Verse 1

| F#m7 | F#m7 | Em | Em |
You better stop dreaming of the quiet life, ’cause it’s the one we’ll never know.
| F#m7 | F#m7 | Em | Em |
And quit running for that runaway bus, ’cause those rosy days are few.
| G | G | F#m7 | F#m7 |
And stop apologizing for the things you’ve never done.
| A | A | A7 | A7 |
‘Cause time is short and life is cruel, but it’s up to us to change.

Chorus 1

| D5 | D5 (D6) | D5 | D5 (D6) |
This town called Malice.
| D | D (D6) | D5 | D5 (D6) |

Verse 2

| F#m7 | F#m7 | Em | Em |
Rows and rows of disused milk floats, stand dying in the dairy yard.
| F#m7 | F#m7 | Em | Em |
And a hundred lonely housewives clutch empty milk bottles to their hearts.
| G | G | F#m7 | F#m7 |
Hanging out their old love letters on the line to dry.
| A | A | A7 | A7 |
It’s enough to make you stop believing, when tears come fast and furious.

Chorus 2

| D5 | D5 (D6) | D5 | D5 (D6) |
In a town called Malice, yeah.
| D | D (D6) | D5 | D5 (D6) |

Verse 3

| F#m7 | F#m7 | Em | Em |
Ba ba ba ba, ba da ba. Ba ba ba da ba.
| F#m7 | F#m7 | Em | Em |
Ba ba ba ba, ba da ba. Ba ba ba da ba.
| G | G | F#m7 | F#m7 |
Struggle after struggle, year after year.
| A | A | A7 | A7 |
The atmosphere’s a fine blend of ice I’m almost stone-cold dead.

Chorus 2

| D5 | D5 (D6) | D5 | D5 (D6) |
In a town called Malice, ooh yeah.
| D | D (D6) | D5 | D5 (D6) |

Middle 8

| C#m | C#m | Bm | Bm |
A whole street’s belief in Sunday’s roast beef.
| C#m | C#m | Bm | Bm |
Gets dashed against the Co-op.
| A | A | A7 | A7 |
To either cut down on beer or the kids new gear, it’s a big decision

Chorus 3

| D5 | D5 (D6) | D5 | D5 (D6) |
In a town called Malice, ooh yeah.


||: (D B A) :|| x4 (as bass intro)
| D5 | D5 (D6) | D | D (D6) | D5 | D5 (D6) |

Verse 4

| F#m7 | F#m7 | Em | Em |
The ghost of a steam train, echoes down my track.
| F#m7 | F#m7 | Em | Em |
It’s at the moment bound for nowhere, just going round and round, oh.
| G | G | F#m7 | F#m7 |
Playground kids and creaking swings, lost laughter in the breeze.
| A | A | A7 | A7 |
I could go on for hours and I probably will but I’d sooner put some joy back in.

Chorus 4

| D5 | D5 (D6) | D5 | D5 (D6) |
This town called Malice, yeah.
||: D | D (D6) | D5 | D5 (D6) :|| to fade
Oooh. In this town called Malice, yeah.
In this town called Malice, ooh yeah.

Town Called Malice Chords: Learn the progressions!

Town Called Malice Analysis + TAB

The chords from Town Called Malice are clever, there’s a key change/modal interchange in there, and most interesting to me, when Paul Weller plays an acoustic version, he’s changed the chord riff.

Members go deep when analyzing the way the chords are played, especially how different sections bring in different parts of the chord at different times.

Tiny arrangement details like this really are what sets the happy amateur apart from the obsessed professional.

Let’s take a quick look at what he does so you can decide if you want to dig deeper or not.

The verse is in the key of D, we move III – II on repeat, then IV – III – V, like this:

||: F#m7 | F#m7 | Em | Em :||
| G | G | F#m7 | F#m7 |
| A | A | A7 | A7 |

It’s a bit funny to say we’re in D as there is no D! However, all other chords point to it so when the chorus arrives and only has a D, it’s a massive release! Exactly how to play it requires the TAB.

Using only chords, I’ve put a 6 chord in brackets, indicating that this is something to add and then take away, like this:

||: D5 | D5 (D6) :||

The chorus is also the section Paul changes when he plays acoustically, you’ll get TAB for both as a member.

The aforementioned modal interchange or key change happens in the middle 8 as we go to the key of A to first pivot between III and II (just like the verse but in a new key), then go to A, turn that into A7 and we aim for the original key of D again, like this:

||: C#m | C#m | Bm | Bm :||
| A | A | A7 | A7 |

Here’s a link to the complete lesson (members only): Town Called Malice – Guitar lesson with TAB.

Become a member today and get unlimited access to all step-by-step guitar coursesTAB for the songbook, the Self-Eliminating Practice Routine, and the eBook Spytunes Method.

Town Called Malice was written by an English national treasure!

The Jam‘s Town Called Malice is a proper classic in England. Four decades after its release, this is still a great secret weapon for the working band or DJ.

Originally, the tune was a play on the words of the novel A Town Called Alice and inspired by Paul’s hometown Woking, again proving that songwriters don’t sit around and wait for inspiration, they seek it out!

Released in 1982, this would become The Jam and Paul Weller’s biggest hit. The critics loved it, seeing this as an English version of Motown, The Guardian said it was a “stomping, Motown-inspired beat” conveying a “sense of pent-up rage and frustrated ambition”, which to me sounds like every frustrated middle-class man in the world… but if The Guardian wants to believe this is a particularly English thing, then be my guest.

Personally, I believe it’s the universal appeal that makes Town Called Malice so special, it conveys what everyone is feeling, everywhere.

Paul Weller’s signature song went to #1 in the U.K. and sold 1.2 million copies. Surprisingly it also did reasonably well in New Zealand, Australia, Holland, and even Belgium of all places. Perhaps the Belgians have a sense of pent-up rage and frustrated ambition too.

In 2023, a new TV series was launched on Sky named after the song, just adding the letter A to it; A Town Called Malice.

Town Called Malice Chords | Related Pages

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The Jam

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Formed by Paul Weller and his classmates in 1972, The Jam was a Mod/punk/rock band that released albums between 1975 and 1982.

Their best tunes include Town Called Malice, Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, Going Underground, and That’s Entertainment.

The Jam on the web

Listen to The Jam on Spotify.

Pop & Rock

Pop & Rock tunes

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About me

About Me Dan Lundholm T

This article was written by Dan Lundholm, Spytunes guitar guru. Discover more about him and how learning guitar with Spytunes has evolved.

Most importantly, find out why you should learn guitar through playing tunes, not practising scales, and studying theory in isolation.


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