Here we are, on the 10th anniversary of the death of Joe Strummer. I still miss Joe so much that it’s difficult to believe it’s a decade since he died… but maybe that’s because his presence is still so strong in the world. Things that Joe said and did still inform a good deal of what I do here and now, and I know it’s the same for people all over the world. He wasn’t perfect, no, but on his good days, he inspired more people than most of us will in our entire lives.
In Chris Salewicz’s biography of Joe, Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer, director Jim Jarmusch had this to say about his friend: “He talked a lot about the bad times that ended the Clash. He seemed to feel guilty. He felt really bad about Cut the Crap, said it was crap. I said, ‘You only learn from your mistakes. You can’t learn things without fucking up.’ We had a lot of discussions about mistakes and accidents, how circumstance and fate affects our lives, how if you want to find your dream lover, you’ll never find it, but as soon as you dismiss the possibility, then it arises again. I was trying to relate that philosophy to him when he was down. I was throwing back his own attitude, because he was very good when people were down – just give them a few little words. He was very good at picking you up again.”
Joe went out just when his star was ascending again, getting better and better with the Mescaleros, and its heartbreaking to think of all that he had left to give that he didn’t have the chance to share with us. But he left a lot with us already, including a huge spirit that we can carry on in our own lives and share with others.
“In fact, punk rock means EXEMPLARY MANNERS TO YOUR FELLOW HUMAN BEING.”
Below, I’ve collected some of my favorite songs from Joe. I encourage you to share your own favorite Joe songs and memories in the comments.
“Clampdown” – The Clash
“Know Your Rights” – The Clash
“This Is Radio Clash” – The Clash
“Brooding Six” – Joe Strummer, Walker soundtrack
“Shaktar Donetsk” – Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros
“Cool ‘n’ Out” – Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros
“Get Down Moses” – Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros
1Perfect Sound Forever, Interview by Jason Gross, January 2003