“Hanging Around” by The Stranglers

The term “hanging around” is a colloquialism that points to the idea of, most generally put, loitering. And in this song, the vocalist details different venues that were part of the London club scene in which he observes certain individuals “just hanging around”.

Verses

The first verse centers on a particular lady, who used to amuse Hugh Cornwell and co. due to the fact that she would frequent one of such joints that they also patronized and get thoroughly boozed therein. 

The second verse is apparently set in a now-defunct nightclub called the Nashville which was the premiere London hotspot back then. Accordingly, there was a plethora of drugs being traded. And it is these drug “hustlers” and their customers who are observed “hanging around”.

Meanwhile, it appears that based on Cornwell’s explanation of the lyrics that the third verse may not be about a dude and his monkey at all but rather a couple of homeys named Gary Coward-Williams and Duncan Doughnuts. 

And the fourth verse is actually about a gay club that one John Ellis, who would later join The Stranglers as a guitarist in 1990, used to hang out at and tell Hugh about.

Chorus

Then of course the chorus steers us in a completely different direction, i.e. heavenward. And it may be, once again referring to the above explanation, that the hook was inspired by an Easter-based joke. But either way, it basically depicts Jesus Christ as “just hanging around” in heaven – presumably a comical expression in and of itself.

And while we’re on the subject of presumptions, there really doesn’t appear to be any type of hidden or profound meaning of this song. The Stranglers were still for the most part in their 20s when this track came out, early in the band’s history. And apparently that was a time in which they engaged in plenty of “just hanging around” in UK chillin’ spots themselves.

The Stranglers' "Hanging Around" Lyrics

The Stranglers

The Stranglers are a band from England that formed in the mid-1970s and are still extant to this day, almost five decades later. They’ve released a slew of studio albums throughout the years, dating back to Rattus Norvegicus, their debut album that came out on 15 April 1977 and which features Hanging Around

And their most-recent project to date, 18 studio albums later, is 2021’s Dark Matters. In fact Dark Matters represents one of the band’s most impressive showings ever on the UK Albums Chart, where it peaked at number four. But that said Rattus Norvegicus was pretty successful itself. Many have actually labeled it as one of the most successful punk albums in the history of Britain.

Facts about “Hanging Around”

“Hanging Around” ranks amongst the most popular songs in the discography of The Stranglers. This is despite the fact that the track was never released as a single. And reportedly, the reason why was because the band’s second album, “No More Heroes” (1977), was released less than six months after “Rattus Norvegicus”. So after having successively released the singles Grip and Peaches from their first project, The Stranglers didn’t want another single from Rattus coming out concurrently with their second album.

In 1981 English singer Hazel O’Connor got around to dropping her own version of “Hanging Around”, this time as a single. And her rendition broke the top 10 of the UK Indie Chart.

Hanging Around

To note, even though The Stranglers may still be active, none of the earlier members that participated on “Rattus Norvegicus” are still active in the group besides Jean-Jacques Burnel, who plays bass guitar. 

However another of the co-founders, keyboardist/singer Dave Greenfield, did remain with the crew until his passing in 2020, marking a 45 year stint with The Stranglers. The other co-founders, guitarist Hugh Cornwell, left the band in 1990. And the other participant on this track is drummer Jet Black, who was a Strangler from 1974 until he retired from music in 2018. And those four individuals – Jet Black, Jean-Jacques Burnel, Hugh Cornwell and the late Dave Greenfield – are also the credited writers of “Hanging Around”.

Meanwhile, the producer of the track was Martin Rushent (1948-2011), and the label that put it out was United Artists Records.

2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    “besides Jean-Jacques Burnel, who plays the drums”
    No. He doesn’t play drums.

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